What Is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)

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Located in the eyelid, the meibomian glands secrete tiny oil, which comprises the lipid layer of the tear film. This tear film is responsible for preventing rapid evaporation of the tears in the eye. It is quite important to eye health. If those glands fail to produce oil, the normal function of tear film will be affected and in turn symptoms like dry eye will be experienced. And this is called the MGD, the abbreviation of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. Also known as posterior blepharitis, MGD is one of the most common physical conditions associated with the eye.

The detailed function of meibomian glands

As for the question that how the meibomian glands function to produce oil, and help keep eyes bathed comfortably in tears, the answer is simple: it is achieved via the blink of eyelid. Every ten seconds or so will be taken for a blink to happen when the former tears break up, and the eyes will be re-moistened. This is the reason why when we stare at something for more than ten seconds without any blink, the eyes are likely to feel dry and tears burst.

Consequences of meibomian gland dysfunction

MGD is usually not sight threatening, but some unpleasant consequences may be brought. On the other hand, this condition is serious enough to undermine the sufferers’ quality of life. Dysfunctional meibomian glands often cause dry eyes. In some cases, the dry eyeball may rub off small pieces of skin from the eyelid. MGD sometimes is accompanied with abnormal lipid production which causes visual discomfort and affects visual acuity.

Moreover, meibomian glands dysfunction may also cause obstructed thick secretions and possibly leads to chalazion, which is painful and unsightly. Another negative point brought by MGD is that infections of the lid margins will be significantly increased, which in turn contributes to bacterial growth. What’s more, the risks of developing postoperative infections after ocular surgeries will be higher.

How to treat MGD

Therefore, the way to treat meibomian gland dysfunction is to make the meibomian gland secrete oil stably, by unclogging the glands which have been blocked or preventing them form blocking up again. The principle of treatment is quite simple but until now the doctors lack a simple, effective therapy. Mechanical therapies such as cleansing, hot compresses and massage have difficulty in terms of adherence. Topical antibiotic drops and ointments are hardly effective.