Author: Dr. Leigh Plowman (Optometrist)

MGD Is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

Meibomian gland dysfunction is an eye condition that can lead to uncomfortable symptoms that impact on day-to-day life. It’s very common and can affect people of all ages, though it’s more common as you age. Fortunately, help is at hand and there are many treatments available to get your eyes back to health.

Let’s find out more about meibomian gland dysfunction and what treatments are out there.

What Are Meibomian Glands?

Meibomian glands are small oil glands found along the edge of the eyelids (the surfaces that meet when you close your eyes). They produce the oil that lubricates the surface of your eyes and stops the water element of your tears from drying out. Your tear film is made up of this oil and water mix.

Why Are Meibomian Glands Important?

The oil component of your tear film is essential to its quality. A well-balanced tear film helps to lubricate your eyes and keep them healthy. If something goes wrong with your tear film — for example, if it doesn’t contain enough oil — you may end up with a painful eye condition or impaired vision.

What Is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?

Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (also known as MGD) is when the glands don’t produce enough oil or the oil they release is of poor quality. This can happen when the openings to the glands get clogged up and less oil comes out. This oil can be of inferior quality — for example, it may have a crusty quality and can irritate instead of lubricating and protecting the eyes.

How Do I Know If I’ve Got MGD?

You may not have any symptoms at all to start with. But if meibomian gland dysfunction is not treated, you may start to notice that your eyes are dry or irritated.

Symptoms include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Itchy or burning eyes
  • Crustiness around the eyes
  • Watering of the eyes
  • Sensitivity
  • The feeling that you have a foreign body in the eyes
  • Chalazion (a swelling within the eyelid)
  • Stye (a swelling on the edge of the eyelid)
  • Blurred vision that gets better when you blink

You may notice that your symptoms get worse after you’ve been using a computer screen for a long time or if you have been exposed to dry air (for example, if you work in an air-conditioned environment).

What Are The Complications Associated With MGD?

MGD can cause dry eye syndrome when you don’t produce enough or good enough quality tears, and your eyes feel uncomfortable as a result.

This means that your eyes feel sore all the time and you are more vulnerable to infections and other unpleasant symptoms.

What Are The Risk Factors For MGD?

The older you get, the more likely you are to be affected by MGD. This is because you lose meibomian glands as you age.

It’s also three times more likely to affect people of Asian heritage than those with European ancestry.

You may be more vulnerable to MGD if you already suffer from an autoimmune disease like lupus, Sjögren’s syndrome, rosacea or rheumatoid arthritis, or if you have blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelids.

Certain drugs, such as estrogen replacement therapy and retinoids for skin conditions, can affect your natural oil production and lead to MGD.

Wearing contact lenses is also a risk factor.

What Treatments Are Available For MGD?

If you think you have MGD, consult an eye doctor who will examine your eyes and make a diagnosis. If they think you have MGD, they may offer one or more treatments, which include:

Self-Care at Home
This involves applying a warm compress to your eyelids for a few minutes, then gently massaging the area to loosen and release the oil. Do this twice a day if you are experiencing symptoms or once a day as a preventative measure.

Like plaque on our teeth, our eyelids often have biofilm. Biofilm helps to protect invading bacteria. It makes it easier for them to multiply and resist treatments. Having buildup on the eyelids is considered a direct risk factor for Meibomian Gland Dysfunction.

Hypochlorous acid spray helps cleanse the outside of the eyelid area. The spray helps the eyes to feel refreshed and reduce bacterial buildup on the outside of the eyelids.

You can also use a NovaWipe, Q-tip or a warm, damp flannel to gently dislodge away any debris along your lash line.

Oil as Therapy
Your doctor may suggest adding oil supplements to your diet to help your symptoms. You could try flaxseed oil or fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids perform a variety of roles to keep your body healthy, including improving the quality of the oil produced by your meibomian glands.

Medical Solutions
Your doctor may prescribe treatments such as lubricating drops or gel to apply to your eyes, steroids to soothe inflammation or antibiotics to treat infection in your eyes.

They may also use a medical device to apply heat to your eyelid area. This disperses deposits blocking your meibomian glands.

Changes to Your Environment
You may also want to consider using a humidifier in your home or workplace to make the environment more comfortable for your eyes.

Keeping Your Eyes Healthy and Symptom-Free

If you think you have MGD, rest assured that it’s a very common condition with a number of treatment options.

It’s important to see an eye doctor if you are experiencing any of the uncomfortable symptoms linked to MGD so that they can prescribe an appropriate course of treatment.

And make sure you stick with any self-care you are advised to follow at home to ensure that your eyes keep healthy, well-lubricated and symptom-free.

Dr. Plowman believes that no-one should suffer alone with dry eyes. Learn more about dry eyes and causes at dryeyedirectory.com

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Avenova hypochlorous acid spray bottle and box
Avenova's patented HOCl formulation fights off toxins and bacteria
Avenova relieves chronic dry eye issues like blepharitis and MGD
Use Avenova every day for best results
Avenova is pure. No bleach, impurities or irritation
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