Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, also known as Meibomiantitis or MGD, is a relatively common eye condition. It is caused by issues in your Meibomian glands, which are glands in both your upper and lower eyelids, twenty-five to forty in the upper and twenty to forty in the lower.

What do Meibomian glands do?

Meibomian GlandsMeibomian glands secrete a series of different oils. These oils perform a critical function for the eye; they prevent your tears from evaporating too quickly.

They do this by mixing with the tears so that they no longer are composed in a way that means that they evaporate at this speed.

This is necessary because a constant film of tears is needed for the eye to function properly, both to keep it clean and to keep it moist.

How can this go wrong?

The problem occurs when these glands do not operate in the way that they are supposed to. This can happen in a couple of ways.

Some abnormality could develop in one or some of the glands themselves. Alternatively, there could be a blockage in the gland due to some external particle or the composition of some of the oils.

If the oils are wrongly composed, then it will lead to them solidifying into some form of impediment. Such an abnormality or blockage means that the affected gland or glands are unable to secrete the correct quantity of oils. Therefore, the necessary oils are not going into the tear liquid.

What is the effect?

The lack of these oils means that the tear liquid will evaporate from the surface of the eyeball at too great a rate. This can lead to symptoms similar to that of dry-eye syndrome; indeed Meibomian Gland Dysfunction is one of the leading causes of dry-eye syndrome. Symptoms include red eyes, a gritty or itchy feeling on the eyeball, and blurred vision.

Who is at risk?

As with many conditions, risk increases with age. This means that those who are older have a much greater chance of getting Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. An Asian ethnicity, frequency of wearing eye makeup and using contact lenses also appear to increase the chance of it occurring.

What can I do about it?

For ways to treat MGD, and the upsides and downsides of such treatments, see our next blog post!