Before learning about meibomian gland dysfunction, let’s know what the meibomian glands are?
Meibomian glands are tiny oil glands that are present along the edge of eyelids where eyelashes are found. They are present in both upper and lower eyelids. The name of this gland is named after the name of German doctor Heinrich Meibom, who studied it.
This gland normally produces meibum or oil into tear film, forming an oily lipid layer of tear film. Tear film consists of 3 layers i.e. lipid layer, aqueous and mucin layer. Lipid layer contributes to prevent the tear evaporation and thus prevents dry eyes.
What is meibomian gland dysfunction?
Meibomian gland dysfunction is a form of dry eye disease where the oily portion (lipid layer) of tears is insufficient or dysfunctional. It is also called MGD.
Commonly, thick or opaque oily substances are released from glands. In early stages, it is often asymptomatic. If not treated in time, it can lead to severe dry eyes and eyelid inflammation. If the glands are clogged or simply blocked, the oil glands may die eventually. And once if died, you can’t get it back.
Eye care professionals will confirm diagnosis if no oil is produced at all.
Causes of MGD
It is a common condition. Anyone can be a victim of this condition. But mostly, Age plays an important role in getting MGD. As we grow older, the number of meibomian glands goes on decreasing .
Various studies suggest that ethnicity also plays an important role in getting MGD. Asian people are about 3 times more likely to get it than others.
Some other factors and conditions that increase the risks of meibomian gland dysfunction are as follows.
- Doing heavy eye makeup also increases the risk of MGD. Those cosmetics can block the opening of meibomian glands and chemicals used in such products can also have adverse effects in our eyes.
- Systemic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, polycystic ovary syndrome(PCOS) can also increase the risk.
- Autoimmune diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Rosacea, lupus, Sjogren’s Syndrome can also increase the risk of getting MGD.
Some other common medical conditions and ophthalmic factors that increase the risk of MGD are
- Allergic Conjunctivitis
- High cholesterol level and triglycerides
- Inflamed cornea and eyelids
- Bacterial infections
- Wearing Contact lenses can also increase risk of MGD
- Heavy exposure to electronic devices
- Postmenopausal woman
Furthermore, Hormone replacement therapy, eyelids tattooing can also trigger MGD. Use of antihistamines, antidepressants also increases the risks.
What are the symptoms of Meibomian glands dysfunction?
Initially or simply in early stages, you may not experience any symptoms at all. But with time condition progress and you may experience the following symptoms.
- Dryness and Burning sensation
- Redness on eyelids margins
- Crusty discharge
- Fluctuating vision
- Light sensitivity
- Foreign body sensation
Diagnosis of MGD
Your eye care professionals will do a comprehensive eye examination so as to diagnose. They will observe your eyelids with the help of a slit lamp using high magnification.
They can also squeeze your eyelids to observe the secretion. Similarly, they will do certain tests to determine the quantity, quality and stability of the tear film.
Hence, combining the results they observed and tests they perform, they will diagnose MGD.
Meibomian glands dysfunction treatment
You can manage it or treat the condition by applying the following methods.
- Apply warm compression : Just apply warm compression to your eyelids for about 15 minutes twice a day. This helps to soften the crusty debris and unblock the glands.
- Massage and lid scrubs : While applying compression, you can simply massage by applying little pressure to eyelid margin above eyelashes using fingertips.
Scrub your eyelids with clean water mixing baby shampoo. But make sure to use something which won’t irritate your eyes. Scrub helps to remove debris, bacteria which block the opening of the gland. Make sure to talk with the eye specialist before applying to cut off the risks.
- Consume dry eye supplement: Omega-3 fatty acid
Some people may benefit from supplements too. Basically you can take omega-3 fatty acids containing nutrients like salmon fish. This helps to improve the quality of oil produced by Meibomian gland and increase production of lipids.
- Take Oral Antibiotics :
Taking oral antibiotics may help to reduce the accumulation of bacteria within your Meibomian gland. But make sure to visit eye care professionals before taking.
- In-office procedure :
For this, you can talk to your eye care provider.
As we know, MGD is the underlying cause of dry eyes syndrome. LipiFLOW treatment is one of the treatment options performed in doctor’s offices for this. The aim of this treatment is to treat root cause of dry eyes i.e. Meibomian gland dysfunction.
LipiFLOW works by applying the precise application of heat and massage to both the outer and inner eyelids for 12 minutes.