Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

What is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?

Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) is a very common condition that describes inflammation and clogging of the glands in your eyelids that produce the oily layer of your tears. When these meibomian glands get inflamed and clogged up, less oil is secreted into the tear film. This causes your tears to evaporate more quickly, resulting in dry, irritated eyes.

What are the symptoms of MGD?

In addition to dry eyes, meibomian gland dysfunction may cause:

  • Red eyes

  • Itchy eyes

  • Burning eyes

  • Sensitivity to light

  • Sensation that something is in your eyes

  • Intermittent blurry vision

  • Styes, cysts, or chalazions

Meibomian gland dysfunction commonly occurs with an eyelid condition called blepharitis, which causes inflamed eyelids and a crusty discharge at the base of the eyelashes.

What are the risk factors?

  • Age: Patients over the age of 40 have decreased lipid production and altered meibum composition.

  • Makeup: One of the largest risk factors includes people who apply eyeliner to their waterline and do not remove their makeup at the end of the day. If the makeup is not fully removed, it potentially induces the obstruction of the meibomian glands.

  • Computer or mobile usage: Computer eye strain can cause meibomian gland dysfunction due to a reduction in blinking that leads to less lipid secretion and eventually tear film instability.

  • Other conditions: Allergic conjunctivitis, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, certain medications, and acne creams can induce meibomian gland dysfunction.

It’s always important to discuss your medications, makeup usage, and computer usage with your optometrist to ensure early detection.

The severity of MGD:

If meibomian gland dysfunction is left untreated, the condition may continue to progress. Over time, the glands become completely obstructed, which then leads to meibomian gland atrophy, resulting in permanent changes in the tear film and dry eyes. Serious complications in patients with late stage MGD often include eye irritation, eyelid pain, and chronic evaporative dry eye. This can significantly increase the risk of eye infections.

How is MGD diagnosed?

The symptoms of meibomian gland dysfunction are nearly the same as those of dry eye syndrome and only your eye doctor can tell for sure if you have MGD. It’s best to schedule a comprehensive exam with your optometrist and discuss your symptoms. Once you have been properly diagnosed, they will discuss a customized treatment plan to help improve your symptoms.

Helpful Articles