Studies indicate 86% of dry eye sufferers show signs of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), so if you have dry eye, you likely have MGD.
Meibomian gland dysfunction is when the meibomian glands, which are essential for optimal eye health, are either not secreting enough meibum (an oil that prevents tears from evaporating too quickly), or are secreting poor quality oil. This condition is often diagnosed and treated by our eye doctor. In many instances, the opening of the glands become clogged, resulting in less secreted oil, which may be granular or otherwise irritating to the eyes.
Patients with meibomian gland dysfunction are often asymptomatic at first, but if not detected and treated in the early stages by our eye care professional, it can both cause and exacerbate dry eye symptoms and inflammation of the eyelids, which can become extremely unpleasant. This is one of the many reasons why routine visits to your local eye care clinic is necessary.
Symptoms of meibomian gland dysfunction may not appear in its early stages. However, as it progresses and less and less of the proper quality oil is secreted into the tear film, it may lead to the following symptoms:
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, call your eye doctor to schedule an evaluation.
These are some of the complications of meibomian gland dysfunction:
Meibomian gland dysfunction needs to be diagnosed by our eye care professional. Our optometry clinic is equipped with the necessary tools and resources to diagnose and manage this condition. To check if you have MGD, there are several tests that can be performed.
You’ll be asked to fill out a symptoms assessment form and a dry eye questionnaire, after which points several types of tests may be performed to determine the nature of your dry eye symptoms and whether you have meibomian gland dysfunction. These tests measure the quantity and quality of tears being produced, and some can specifically check the quality of the meibum (the oil produced by the meibomian glands).
These may include:
Additionally, some specialty clinics may use advanced photography utilizing multifunctional corneal topography and digital imaging instruments to obtain accurate looks at the various parts of the eye which may be affected by dry eye.
Based on the results of these tests, the doctor will be able to determine whether you have MGD.
During the early stages of meibomian gland dysfunction, self-care can be helpful.
Additionally, consult with a doctor about taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements, as they have anti-inflammatory properties and can improve meibum quality.
More advanced MGD requires medical treatment. Steroids (either topical, spray, eye drops or pills), can be prescribed to help decrease inflammation.
In the office, the doctor may use medical devices specially designed to unblock meibomian glands to improve symptoms. Some of these, such as Systane iLux, Tearcare, Lipiflow, and Mibo Thermoflo, emit heat from the devices directly to the target area to melt buildup and allow the glands to be unclogged via expression of the glands. Intense Pulse Light therapy (IPL), works similarly, but utilizes light to generate the necessary heat to melt the obstructions.
Being consistent with whatever treatment is recommended to you is vital to keep your MGD from getting worse, and in-office treatments such as those mentioned above are capable of providing much longer-lasting relief than at-home treatments like warm compresses.
If you don’t already have a trusted optometrist, you could start your online search by typing in phrases such as "eye doctor near me," "optometrist near me," or "Dry eye specialist near me."
Meibomian gland dysfunction is a very common problem which can cause dry eye. While in its early stages it can be managed at home, if it gets more severe proper medical care is vital to help relieve symptoms and improve your quality of life. If you’re suffering from dry eye symptoms, you can reach out to your nearest Amplify EyeCare practice either via a call or in-person visit. Our team of eye care professionals is ready and equipped to provide you with the care you need.