Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) is a condition where the meibomian glands are inflamed and are releasing poorer quality oils in reduced quantities or in some cases, not at all. It can cause itchy, gritty, red and sore eyes.

What is MGD?

Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) is a condition where the meibomian glands are inflamed and are releasing poorer quality oils in reduced quantities or in some cases, not at all. Meibomian Gland Dysfunction is common eye condition and is considered a form of posterior blepharitis.

The meibomian glands are oil producing glands that are located on both the top and bottom eyelid margin. This oil creates the front layer of your tear film and its main role is to help create a smooth tear layer on the eye as well as prevent the tears from evaporating. It is important component needed to create clear, crisp vision.

What are the symptoms of MGD?

Symptoms of meibomian gland dysfunction are dependent on the severity of the case and can vary person to person. Common MGD symptoms include:

  • Gritty Eyes
  • Burning and stingy eyes
  • Fluctuations in vision
  • Itchy eyes
  • Watery eyes in windy environments
  • Red eyes
  • Styes

These symptoms are similar to dry eye, as the oils produced by meibomian glands are an active part of the tear film. When these oils are not being produced in the correct quantity, or if the quality of oils is suffering, moisture from the tear film will evaporate reducing the amount of lubrication on the front of the eye and as a result, the tear film will be irregular or break down more quickly.

Symptoms of MGD can be constant or intermittent. Environmental changes like air conditioning, computer use and heating may increase symptoms.

Risk factors of MGD

Similar to the risk of dry eyes, the risk of meibomian gland dysfunction increases with age. Studies show that those over the age of 40 have a much greater risk of developing MGD than younger people.

Ethnicity can also be a factor, with studies showing that MGD is more common in Asian populations, though the numbers do vary between studies.

Wearing contact lenses may also increase the risk of developing MGD, although additional research is needed in this area as it is not well understood.

Wearing make-up can potentially contribute to developing MGD, as eyeliner and other makeup products can block the openings of meibomian glands, especially when eyelids are not cleaned thoroughly before going to bed at night.

Treatments for meibomian gland dysfunction

There are a few ways that MGD can be treated. These usually occur in a step-wise fashion.

  • Oil sprays and drops with an oil component are a way to reduce intermittent symptoms by supplementing the oil supply.
  • Warm compresses followed by lid massage can be performed.
  • Antibiotics that have an anti-inflammatory component also can be used if the severity warrants it.
  • Omega 3 intake is usually increased to help with symptoms as this can help change the oil consistency that is produced by the glands. The Omega 3 tends to have a gradual response to improving oil quality.
  •  Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is a new safe procedure that can be used to help release the build-up of lipids in the glands. It consists of three treatments spaced at specific time intervals apart.

Further Information

For more information on MGD diagnosis & treatment, please get in touch with one of our trained specialists at Wellington Eye Centre. We offer a wide range of eye treatments, from laser eye surgery to cataract surgery and more. Our experts welcome queries and are able to find the best solution for your eyes across many different conditions.