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A close-up view of an open, sparkling, human eye.What is Meibomian gland dysfunction?

Meibomian gland dysfunction, also known as “MGD,” or “meibomitis,” is an inflammatory condition of the Meibomian glands. Meibomian glands are the small oil glands that sit at the lid margins on the top and bottom of your eyes. These small glands produce an oil that coats the front surface of the tear film, preventing tears from easily evaporating. This condition is especially important in those patients who suffer from dry eye as the result of MGD is both lid inflammation and dry eyes.


Who can be affected by MGD?

This common condition affects patients of all ages.  Some studies have suggested that MGD is more often seen in contact lens wearers, older patients, and those patients using topical eye medications (such as those medications prescribed for glaucoma).  However, MGD can occur in anyone, of any age.


How is blepharitis related to MGD?

There are generally two types of blepharitis: anterior blepharitis and posterior blepharitis. Anterior blepharitis occurs along the external portion of the lids around the base of the eye lashes. Posterior blepharitis (another term for MGD) affects the inner edge of the eyelid that comes in contact with the eyeball, specifically at the oil glands (the Meibomian glands). These two types of blepharitis can occur simultaneously or separately. We refer to anterior blepharitis simply as “blepharitis,” and posterior blepharitis simply as “MGD.”


What causes MGD?

This condition can result from irregular oil production by the oil glands of the eyelids which create a favorable environment for bacterial growth. It can also develop as a result of other skin conditions such as acne rosacea and scalp dandruff.


How is MGD diagnosed?

The doctors here at Vista Eye Care typically diagnose MGD at a patient’s annual comprehensive eye and vision examination.  We perform a simple, painless scan called “LipiView” on the lower lids which can reveal the structure of the underlying Meibomian glands.  Your doctor will review the results from this scan with you each year to determine the health of your Meibomian glands.  In those patients with pronounced Meibomian gland dysfunction, we may have you return for a medically-directed exam called an Ocular Surface Disease Evaluation, or “OSDE.”


What is an Ocular Surface Disease Examination?

An Ocular Surface Disease Examination, or “OSDE” is a problem-specific medically-directed exam where our doctors perform a series of symptom assessment and diagnostic testing.  We will test your Meibomian gland structure and function, as well as your tear production, tear quality, associated lid and ocular surface inflammation, lid health, and tear stability.  This exam is not painful, doesn’t require pupil dilation, and is approximately 20-30 minutes in duration.  Those patients scheduled for an OSDE are not required to bring a driver to their appointment.


How is MGD treated?

There are many treatments for MGD depending on the severity of the patient’s MGD, and if there are any other contributing factors or other causes of ocular surface inflammation.  The goal of treating MGD is to open up the Meibomian glands so that they can function in preventing tear evaporation.  LipiFlow is an easy, highly effective treatment that gently heats the Meibomian glands in the upper and lower lids while applying a gentle, pulsatile pressure to free the glands from obstruction.  This procedure has been shown to be effective for one to three years after it is performed.  Besides LipiFlow, there are many other supplementary treatments which we prescribe to help our patients with MGD.


Can medications be used to treat MGD?

If the MGD is particularly pronounced, our doctors may prescribe an antibiotic or anti-inflammatory medication to help restore the Meibomian glands to their full functionality. Often times a bacterial infection is concurrent with the inflammation and antibiotics allow for quick resolution of the condition. If the eyes don’t produce enough tears, a dietary supplement (such as EyePromise’s EZ Tears) may be prescribed to help increase tear quality and quantity.  The truth is that no two patients present with the same level of symptoms and signs, and treating MGD is something that we customize to each individual.


What can I do at home to encourage healthy Meibomian gland function?

Because the Meibomian glands produce oil, they respond very well to heat. Gently heating the lids encourages blood flow to the lids as well as softening the Meibomian gland contents. Your doctor may ask you to perform warm compresses as home as part of your treatment.  A variety of heating masks and ointments are available at the time of your OSDE.


Directions for eyelid warm compresses:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly.
  2. Moisten a clean washcloth with warm water.
  3. Close eyes and place washcloth on eyelids for about 5 minutes, re-heating the washcloth as necessary. The eyelids are the thinnest skin in the human body, so take care not to burn them!
  4. Repeat several times daily.


Start treating your Meibomian gland dysfunction today for more comfortable eyes and better vision!  Call our office today at (303) 450-2020 to schedule your Ocular Surface Disease Evaluation, or use the button below to schedule online:

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Vista Eye Care

13695 Colorado Blvd. Thornton, CO 80602
Phone: (303) 450-2020
Fax: (303) 920-1440

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