What is Dry Eye due to MGD?
Are you suffering from red, itchy, crusty, and inflamed eyelids?
If you have any of the above symptoms, then you may have a condition known as dry eye disease. In the past, dry eye disease was usually treated with artificial tears to help supplement the body’s lack of tear production. In more recent years, dry eye sufferers have been prescribed products to help their eyes produce natural tears. While both kinds of therapy offer temporary relief from symptoms, they often do not address the root cause of dry eye.
There are two types of dry eye disease, each with a different root cause.
- Aqueous-deficient dry eye occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough of the water layer of your tears, making it impossible for the surface of the eye to remain sufficiently hydrated.
- Evaporative dry eye, also known as meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), occurs when the meibomian glands, which produce the important oily layer for your tears, don’t function properly. This oil keeps the tears stable, slowing down evaporation. MGD interferes with the production of this oil, which causes your tears to evaporate more quickly than normal.
Evaporative dry eye is far more common. In fact, 86% of dry eye disease is due to meibomian gland dysfunction. 1 This means that using artificial tears and prescriptions to increase tear production only help a mere 14% of dry eye sufferers. For the vast majority of dry eye patients, addressing the malfunctioning meibomian glands is the key to alleviating their symptoms.
In recent studies, it has been shown that MGD starts with the overpopulation of bacteria on the eyelids and lashes. 2 When bacteria are left to grow on the eyelid margin, they can trigger the vicious circle of MGD: the bacteria cause inflammation and block the secretion of the oily tear layer, which in turn can cause the proliferation of more bacteria.
If you can manage the overpopulation of bacteria on the eyelids then you’ll stop the vicious cycle of MGD before it begins.
- Lemp MA, Crews LA, Bron AJ, Foulks GN, Sullivan BD. Distribution of aqueous-deficient and evaporative dry eye in a clinic-based patient cohort: a retrospective study. Cornea. 2012; 31 (5):472-8.
- Baudouin C, Messmer EM, Aragona P, et al Revisiting the vicious circle of dry eye disease: a focus on the pathophysiology of meibomian gland dysfunction. British Journal of Ophthalmology 2016;100:300-306.