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Meibomian Gland Dysfunction – Another Cause of Dry Eye

Tear glands anatomy graphic

Meibomian glands are tiny oil glands that line your upper and lower lid margins. Their role is to release oil onto the surface of your eye to help keep your eye moisturized. It is very common for these glands to become plugged leading to decreased oil production and poor quality tears. When this happens, it is referred to as meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). Chronic MGD can lead to symptoms such as dryness, irritation, intermittent blurred vision, and red eyes.

Treatment for MGD starts with heat and massage.  Think of the clogged glands like tiny sticks of butter. Heat “melts” the oil and helps improve the flow.  Use a warm heat pack on your closed eyes for 5-10 minutes 1-2x per day. There are several eye masks made for this specific purpose that you can find at the drug store. Some name brand masks include, Bruder Mask, Tranquileyes, DERM masks, or Mibomask. You can also make your own using a clean sock filled with uncooked rice.

After using the heat, you can gently massage the lid margin to help further release the oils onto your tear film. You can roll you finger upward on the lower lid while looking up and similarly roll your finger downward on the upper lid while looking down.

Other lid hygiene techniques include lid scrubs using either over the counter lid wipes such as ocusoft lid wipes or Clidadex wipes, or dilute a gentle baby shampoo to lightly wash your eye lashes and eyelids.

Lastly, some people benefit from adding omega-3 fatty acids to their diets. Omega-3’s have been shown to improve the quality of oils released from our meibomian glands. Fish oil and flax seed oil are good sources of this nutrient. Be sure to talk with your doctor before starting any supplements to make sure it is safe for you.

To learn more and be assessed for MGD, schedule an appointment with Dr. Steve or Dr. Sarah. We look forward to seeing you in the clinic!