What is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?

What is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?

What is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?

What is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?

The meibomian glands are sebaceous glands located along the eyelids where the eyelashes are found. Their purpose is to create the oil that makes up a key component of the tear film. The oil in the tear film is responsible for floating on the surface of the tear film, keeping the eyes comfortable, and preventing the tear film from evaporating too quickly. Unfortunately, problems with the meibomian glands can have consequences for our eyes and vision. 



Meibomian gland dysfunction, or MGD for short, is a term that is used to describe a group of disorders affecting the meibomian glands. In most instances, the meibomian glands become blocked by hardened oil deposits, meaning that the oil element of tear film can’t be released. This affects the quality of tear film, making it less effective than it needs to be. 


Meibomian gland disorders are extremely common, yet many patients who are affected don’t realize that they are since their symptoms are very often mild and easily overlooked. Two conditions that often accompany MGD include:



Blepharitis is a common condition that causes the eyelids to become inflamed and sore. Although it rarely causes serious damage to the eyes, it can be very uncomfortable and affect your quality of life. Blepharitis is often associated with scalp and skin conditions, but posterior blepharitis is caused by blockages in the meibomian glands. 


Symptoms of blepharitis include:

  • Red, swollen eyelids

  • Crusting and white scales on the roots of eyelashes

  • Eyes that feel sore, burning, gritty, or itchy

  • Blurred vision


Dry Eye

Dry eye is another common condition that is characterized by the symptom of the same name. Again, it doesn’t damage the eyes or lead to any permanent damage, but it can cause debilitating symptoms and make your eyes quite sore and uncomfortable. It occurs as a result of the quality of tear film being adversely affected by a lack of oil. With tear film less effective than it should be, eyes can feel dry, as well as:


  • Sandy or gritty

  • Sore

  • Itchy or burning 

  • Excessively watery (an emergency response to lack of lubrication that means that the eyes are flooded by poor-quality tears)

Patients can also experience short-term blurred vision and increased sensitivity to light. 



Fortunately, meibomian gland dysfunction is a treatable condition. There are a number of different techniques which you may be recommended to help alleviate your symptoms as well as treat the underlying cause of your condition. These include


Eyedrops. Artificial tears are a great way to hydrate the eyes and counteract the dryness that can occur as a result of MGD. They can also flush out any crusting or scales that could have accumulated on the lower eyelashes as part of blepharitis. Anti-inflammatory eye drops can also sometimes be prescribed, which help to counteract swelling and inflammation that can be contributing to gland dysfunction.


Warm compresses. Meibomian gland dysfunction is caused by hardened oil deposits blocking the exit from the glands. Warm compresses can be used to heat these deposits so that they liquefy and pass out of the glands into the tear film, enabling oil to flow freely once more. 


Massage. Gently massaging the eyelids after using warm compresses is an effective way of helping to eliminate the oil deposits from the glands. Use clean hands to make sure that you don’t transfer any bacteria into the eyes. 


Lipiflow. Lipiflow is a thermal pulsation treatment that combines both heat and massage to treat MGD. This is done using cutting-edge technology in your eye doctor’s office and is completely painless and short enough to be completed in a lunch break. 




For more information about meibomian gland dysfunction, visit Cleburne Eye Clinic in Cleburne, Texas. Call (817) 645-2411 to schedule an appointment today.

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