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Hom, Milton M.*; Mastrota, Katherine M.; Schachter, Scott E.

doi: 10.1097/OPX.0b013e3182968c77

Purpose Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis are ectoparasites with an astounding prevalence of 100% in patients aged 70 years and older. Every person in this age group is estimated to carry a colony of 1000 to 2000 mites. With such a high prevalence, little attention has been paid to the mite among eye care practitioners. We demonstrate a clinical sequence in a set of case reports to identify the mite. The clinical sequence includes a clinical history of blepharitis, dry eyes, and/or ocular allergy; slit lamp examination of cylindrical dandruff; and confirmation using light microscope evaluation of epilated lashes.

Case Reports Patient 1 was a 68-year-old woman who demonstrates associations with dry eyes and diabetes. Patient 2 was a 44-year-old man with uncommonly seen D. brevis present. Patient 3 was a 40-year-old woman with dry eyes and allergy, showing mite tails protruding from base of lashes. Patient 4 was a 60-year-old woman who demonstrates the association with rosacea. Patient 5 was a 53-year-old woman intermittently taking topical steroid and antibiotic combination medications, with an actual mite photographed on the surface.

Conclusions Following a clinical sequence helps identify Demodex, the underdiagnosed, undertreated, and underappreciated ocular surface disease.




Private Practice, Azusa, California (MMH); Omni Eye Surgery, New York, New York (KMM); Southern California College of Optometry, Fullerton, California (SES); and Private Practice, Pismo Beach, California (SES).

Milton M. Hom, 1131 East Alosta Ave, Azusa, CA 91702; e-mail:

© 2013 American Academy of Optometry