Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is common. However, most people do not realize that they have this eye condition. It occurs due to a problem with the tiny glands on the eyelids.
The glands are essential for producing the oil layer in tears called meibum. Tears consist of water, mucus, and meibum. The oil helps prevent fast evaporation or drying out of the water on the surface of the eye. Is meibomian gland dysfunction common?
MGD results from changes in the quality or amount of oil in the tears or changes in the meibomian glands. Obstructive MGD is the most common type, and it occurs when the glands become clogged. The clogging results in less oil reaching the eye surface.
Age plays a significant role in the development of MGD as the glands reduce with time. Wearing contact lenses can cause MGD. Other risk factors are medical conditions like high cholesterol, allergic conjunctivitis, eye diseases, and damaged or inflamed cornea or eyelid.
Bacterial infections, autoimmune diseases, medications, and estrogen replacement therapy can lead to MGD. Retinoids found in anti-aging creams and acne medication can cause MGD.
The early stages of MGD do not usually exhibit symptoms. As the condition progresses, there are several symptoms. They include itching or burning eyes, dry and irritated eyes, and the sensation of something in the eyes.
Red and inflamed eyelids are also symptoms of the condition. An eyelid that looks rough or uneven can reveal the condition. Some people experience intermittent blurry vision that may improve with blinking and sensitivity to light.
The most common complication of MGD is dry eye syndrome. Most people who suffer from dry eyes have problems with the meibomian glands. Another complication of MGD is blepharitis or eyelid inflammation, which occurs along the eyelid rims.
In some cases, MGD, eyelid inflammation, and dry eye occur simultaneously. Left untreated, MGD can lead to infection and inflammation during eye surgery. Advanced MGD can cause corneal disease.
To diagnose MGD, the eye doctor will examine the eyelids, looking at the gland openings. Diagnosis may also involve pressing the eyelids to squeeze out the oil. A Schirmer’s test helps check if the eye is producing adequate tears.
Other tests help measure the quality of the meibum to determine how fast the tears evaporate. A tear breakup time test (TBUT) checks how quickly the tear film breaks up or loses stability.
Applying a warm compress on the eyelids and massaging the lids can help treat MGD. Other treatment options for the condition include:
Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy
Antibacterial eye drops
Cyclosporine eye drops
MGD is quite common, even though most people do not realize that they have the condition. In the early stages, self-care may be adequate. You can treat the condition to prevent it from worsening.
For more on meibomian gland dysfunction, contact Brandon Eyes at our office in Madison or Middleton, Wisconsin. You can call (608) 833-0301 or (608) 833-7256 today to schedule an appointment.