What Is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)?

Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) is thought to be the leading cause of dry eye disease. However, MGD is more than just ‘dry eyes’ or ‘sore eyes’. These symptoms may get much worse for those with MGD and, if left untreated, MGD can result in permanent damage to the eyes.

The Meibomian Glands produce an oil that coats the edges of our lids. When we make a full blink our upper and lower lids touch and then drag a thin layer of oil onto the surface of the eye. This oil layer helps to prevent evaporation of our tears.

MGD can exist as a single disorder but is often associated with several other diseases such as posterior blepharitis, anterior blepharitis (lid inflammation), primary meibomianitis and/or seborrheic dermatitis.

Though the term “MGD” covers a wide number of conditions, the major symptoms are blocked oil glands with thickened secretions. If left untreated, these chronically clogged glands are unable to secrete oil and permanent changes in the tear film will result as well as chronic dry gritty eyes.

The recognition and treatment of MGD will result in reducing dryness, inflammation and discomfort and is very simple to treat. Patients with MGD often have red, puffy watery eyes which have implications socially and at work while the itchiness reduces quality of life. It is often difficult for people with MGD to wear contact lenses. Diagnosis and treatment of MGD is also a very important step in avoiding complications with cataract and refractive surgery.

What Are The Symptoms Of MGD?

The main symptoms that are indicators for MGD are:

  • Dryness
  • Burning
  • Itching
  • Gritty
  • Stickiness
  • Watering
  • Light Sensitivity
  • Red Eyes
  • Foreign Body Sensation
  • Styes
  • Intermittent Blurry Vision

If you are suffering from any of the symptoms listed above then you may have MGD (or any of the related disorders). General discomfort in the eye region of any nature should not be ignored as this is often an early sign of disease and treatment at this stage will have the most benefit and prevent any damage to your eyes.

Call us to speak with our optometrists to discuss your symptoms and whether an appointment will be necessary to investigate your symptoms further.

How is MGD Detected?

Recent improvements in the way that MGD is detected have resulted in a clearer definition of MGD. Accurate diagnosis is based on a standardized grading system and examination of the eyelids with a slit-lamp exam. Clinicians are looking for symptoms such as oily lid margins, excess oil in the tear film or dilated meibomian glands as well as feedback from the patient indicating they have any of the symptoms mentioned above (such as dryness, burning or itching).

We have acquired the Oculus Keratograph that very precisely measure tear film and image Meibomian Glands in infrared light.

Healthy Meibomian Glands
Lids affected by MGD

How can you Treat MGD

At Russo Optometry we are now able to treat MGD with the use of a product called Blephasteam®

Blephasteam is a heat and moisture goggle that delivers moisture and heat therapy around the eyelids to unblock the Meibomian glands. Once the heat is applied we express the lids to help remove any blockages. We use a topical anaesthesia (eyedrops) when expressing the glands.  Meibomian Gland Expression is not painful and almost all patients tolerate the procedure with little to no discomfort.

Blephasteam and Meibomian Gland Expression takes 20 minutes and it is safe for you to drive home after treatment.

This technique has been shown to be far more beneficial than using a warm compress because Belphasteam® delivers a standardised therapy at a consistently safe temperature, where a warm compress is not as accurately controlled.

thea goggles

How Many Treatments Are Required For MGD?

Mild MGD: Requires 1 session plus maintenance.

Moderate MGD:  Requires 2 sessions plus maintenance.

Severe MGD: Requires 3 sessions plus maintenance.

Prior to undertaking this treatment, we will carry out a detailed dry eye assessement to decide on the best course of action for you. It is extremely important to maintain good eyelid hygiene as well as combining a variety of therapeutic options. During your appointment we will go through caring for your eyes as well as drops and/or lid wipes to help aid the treatment.

Other Treatment Options For MGD?

Optimel Eye drops – An exciting addition to helping maintain meibomian gland function is the introduction of Optimel Eye Drops. These are specially formulated for the eye using Manuka Honey.
Manuka Honey has some very unused properties. It acts as an anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and its slightly acidic natural is believed to help oil flow from the meibomian glands.