Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) and Your Eyes

by Oct 28, 2019

For most individuals suffering from dry eye disease (DED), the condition is multifactorial, meaning many different aspects are contributing to the development of symptoms such as dryness, grittiness, burning, irritation, and even watery eyes and blurred vision.  Most of those people with dry eyes are also affected by a condition known as Meibomian gland dysfunction that often occurs in conjunction with DED and can worsen the symptoms. If this is the case, effectively treating symptoms of dryness means addressing and treating the underlying Meibomian gland dysfunction.  Continue reading to learn more about the causes, treatment, and prevention of Meibomian gland dysfunction.  


The Basics of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction 

Meibomian glands are the millions of small glands that line the upper and lower eyelids.  Each time we blink, our Meibomian glands release an oil into the tear film. This oil, called meibum, is essential in creating a healthy, stable tear film; it prevents tears from evaporating, and helps keep the ocular surface well covered and protected.  If meibum is not being properly released from the glands into the tears, we may begin to notice symptoms like dryness and irritation. 

Meibomian gland dysfunction, or MGD, is the term used to describe glands that are not properly releasing oil into the tear film.  If the glands are clogged, blocked, infected, inflamed, or damaged, they will not be able to properly function. Oftentimes, MGD is caused by old age, as our glands become less effective and lower in number as we get older.  Poor lid hygiene can also result in oils, debris, or makeup clogging the glands and inhibiting them from doing their job. Sometimes meibum can get backed up within the glands, so when it is released it is a much thicker texture than it is supposed to be.  All of these can be conditions that lead to MGD and ultimately worsen symptoms of dry eye disease


How Do You Treat MGD?

Treating and managing MGD is usually a long-term process that is imperative in the effective treatment of dry eye disease.  While we can’t prevent our Meibomian glands from naturally decreasing in number when we get older, we can help promote longstanding Meibomian gland health and maintain proper function of our glands in youth.  Lid hygiene is one of the most important aspects of treating MGD. This includes regularly cleaning the eyelid margin to remove debris that may have the potential to clog or disrupt glands. This can be done with warm water and eye-safe soap, or commercially prepared eyelid scrubs or wipes can be purchased over-the-counter for a more convenient cleansing routine. Warm compresses are also an important step of lid hygiene.  This includes holding a warm washcloth or a commercially prepared mask over the eyelids for 10-20 minutes. The heat breaks up any blockages or clogged glands and allows the oil to be properly released again. Warm compresses can be done multiple times a day. Sometimes Meibomian gland expression can be performed in the office of an eye care professional, either manually or by a specially designed device, which helps release any oil that is blocked.  In severe cases of MGD, antibiotic medications can be used to reduce any bacteria that may be contributing to the poor function of the glands.  

If you suspect you have Meibomian gland dysfunction that is contributing to your symptoms of dry eye disease, visit your eye doctor.  They will be able to confirm the presence of MGD and can give you specific treatment recommendations based on your specific condition and symptoms. 

At EyeDocs Family Eye Care, you will recieve only the highest quality eye exam with our eye doctor in Brookville, Ohio.  Call us at 937-770-1265 or schedule an eye exam appointment online with Dr.Kyle Maxam or Dr. Kara Wampler for your next eye exam with a Brookville eye doctor. The next time you need an evaluation for dry eye and meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) be sure to come to EyeDocs where we always put the care of you and your family first with our eye care in Brookville, OH.

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