At one point or another, most adults have experienced dry eye symptoms. Whether uncomfortable eye surface problems are mild, or severe enough to affect your day-to-day life, this common condition was often thought to be caused by a lack of adequate natural tear production in the eye. Today, we know that for over 86% of patients presenting with symptoms like redness, tearing, burning or blurry vision, the true cause is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD).
What is MGD?
Meibomian glands are found in our upper and lower eyelids in numbers of 25 to 40 and 20 to 30, respectively. These glands work to produce and secrete oils onto the eye’s surface that prevent natural tears from evaporating too quickly. When a blockage or another abnormality occurs, meibomian glands cannot release enough oils, making tears evaporate more quickly and ultimately leading to dry eyes. Ongoing MGD could lead to styes (chalazions) or be the cause of recurrent chalazia.
Who is at risk?
Although risk for MGD increases with age, the condition can be found in patients of all ages. In young adults and children, one of the leading causes of MGD is increased use of devices with digital screens. Excessive exposure to these can cause infrequent blinking, which prompts the eye to produce more lubrication, stimulating additional oil production in the meibomian glands. Over time, this can lead to blockages and MGD. Eye makeup that is not properly and completely removed before sleep, as well as contact lens wear, can also contribute to developing MGD.
How is MGD detected?
Because MGD presents itself with many of the same symptoms as other eye conditions, including dry eye syndrome, only your eye care specialist can tell you for sure if you have MGD. Whether it’s during your regular eye exam, or if you’re experiencing symptoms that are disrupting your lifestyle, having your doctor examine your eyes for MGD can help this chronic condition from progressing.
What are treatment options for MGD?
If caught early, MGD can be effectively treated to prevent it from advancing and causing more severe symptoms. Once MGD has been detected, your eye doctor can work with you to determine the best plan of action to treat your condition. Treatment options vary from antibacterial or cyclosporine eye drops, to gland probing to unclog the main ducts of your meibomian glands, thermal pulsation treatment, and even Omega-3 supplements.
If you are experiencing dry eyes, blurry vision, gritty or burning sensations, redness or any combination of the symptoms associated with MGD, it’s time to schedule your appointment with Logan Eye Care.