When you blink, a tear film spreads over the front of the eye. This ensures the eye’s surface to remain smooth and clear. The tear film is of utmost importance in ensuring good vision. Each layer of the tear film serves a very specific purpose.
The tear film is made of three layers:
- An oily layer
- A watery layer
- A mucus layer
The meibomian glands produce the oily tear film, the outer layer of the tear film. It makes the tear surface smooth and reduces evaporation time. These ducts open on the inner edge of the eyelid. With each blink oil is forced out and onto the eye itself. Certain medical conditions and ageing could lead to a faster evaporation of this tear layer.
What is Meiboiman Gland Dysfunction (MGDF)?
Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGDF) is where the glands found in the eyelid are not secreting enough oil or the oil secreted is poor quality. Blocked glands produce less oil. The oil that does make it out of the glands can be crusty or abnormal in another sense, and furthermore cause irritation. This is a very common occurrence.
In the beginning, you may have no symptoms, but if left untreated it can worsen dry eyes and cause severe eyelid inflammation. Chronically blocked glands may eventually result in permanent changes in your tear film whereby it is unable to secrete oil.
- Age; as you get older your risk for MGDF increases
- Ethnic background; studies show that Asian populations have a higher probability
- Make-up; such as eyeliner can block your meibomian glands.
It is best to consult your ophthalmologist for a diagnosis. Symptoms include:
- Dry eyes (see more here)
- Burning sensation
- Teary eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Red eyes
- Gritty sensation
- Recurrent chalazions or styes
- Intermittent blurry vision
- Warm compresses
To enhance oil drainage, apply a warm facecloth or cotton bud dipped in warm water for at least 1 minute to the eyelids. This should be done daily. The oil will flow more easily as well as soften crusts on the lashes.
- Lid massages
This is best done after warm compresses. Massage both eye’s eyelids as follows: close eyes and roll your finger from the top of the cheek bone to the tip of the eyelashes of the bottom eyelid in an upward motion. Do the same from the eyebrow to the tip of the eyelashes of the top eyelid in a downward motion. This needs to be done once a day and continued for the rest of your life.
- Lid scrubs
Dilute baby shampoo in lukewarm water (a few drops in a small cup of water). For this treatment, your eye should be closed. Use an two separate ear buds or cotton, dip it in the water and very gently scrub along the lashes of your eyelids. Do this with one ear bud or cotton per eye to avoid infection.
- The use of a humidifier can also contribute to a more comfortable eye
- Omega 3 can enhance tear quality
- Sunglasses with closed sides keep wind out of the eyes. Polarized sunglasses are the best option for sunglasses.
- Supplemental eye drops
- Meibomian gland probing helps to open up the glands and improves secretion: