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Meibomian gland dysfunction/ Meibomitis is the most common cause of dry eyes. 60 % of dry-eye sufferers have meibomian gland disease. Yet it is not usually diagnosed! This new found knowledge has changed the way that The EyeClinic by Dr Cheryl Lee treats dry eyes, giving relief to many who have thought that there is no cure for dry eyes. First, we need to understand what our Meibomian glands do for us.

What are Meibomian glands and their functions?

Meibomian glands are located at the rim of our upper and lower eyelids, producing lipids (known as meibum) to lubricate and prevent evaporation of our tears.

Normal Tear Film

The normal tear film is composed of 3 layers:

  1. Oily top layer (also called meibum)
  2. Tears/aqueous (water) later
  3. Mucin (allow tears to spread evenly)

The most superficial layer is an oily layer which prevents rapid evaporation of the tears. The oil is produced by the meibomian glands and is called meibum. There are dozens of glands along the edges of each lid. 

Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

In a normal situation, oil from the meibomian gland is produced by the glands and released onto the tear film. The oil floats on the tears and protects against evaporation.

MGD results in either insufficient or hypersecretion of meibum by the meibomian glands.

If there is insufficient “meibum,” the tears evaporate faster and causes dry eye.

In hypersecretion with hyper viscosity, the quality of the meibum is thick and clouds the tear film. It can also lead to blockage of the meibomian glands preventing the oils from being secreted. As the oil continues to be produced but not cannot be secreted due to the blocked outlet, a stye develops.

Hypersecretion is more commonly seen due to our use of devices and reading. We blink less while using digital devices or reading. Infrequent blinking causes less lubrication across the eyes, thus stimulating meibomian glands to produce excessive meibum, resulting in blockage of glands overtime.

Read more about the treatment for Meibomitis at here.

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