Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

Eye Health

By Dr S.S. Gill

In our continuing series on Eye Health, Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S. S. GILL talks to us about MEIBOMIAN GLAND DYSFUNCTION (MGD) and DRY EYES.

Our eyes are bathed with a tear film layer. The TEAR FILM has three basic functions. Firstly, it bathes and protects our eyes. Secondly, it also contains proteins and nutrients which provide nourishment to the eye. Thirdly, tears help refract light to keep vision nice and sharp.

The TEAR FILM comprises of three layers – the FATTY (lipid) layer, WATERY (aqueous) layer, and the MUCIN layer. The outer FATTY layer works by keeping our tears from evaporating or drying-up too soon. This layer is produced by our eyelid glands, so if you have unhealthy eyelids, a defective fatty layer would result. In this condition, tears could dry up very fast. The middle AQUEOUS layer is the main WATERY part of your tears, while the inner MUCIN layer is the “glue” layer needed to keep the whole tear film well spread on the eye surface. A defect in any one of these three layers of the tear film will cause inadequate or poor quality tears.

The meibomian glands form a row on the inside margin of the eyelids. These MEIBOMIAN GLANDS produce the outer oily/fatty layer of the tears which essentially prevents the watery layer of the tears from drying out.

When there is MGD, this results in the tear film drying out fast, thus contributing to DRY EYES. MGD is not a serious condition, but it can cause significant discomfort and sometimes blurring vision.


  • Redness in the affected eyelid.
  • Burning sensation.
  • Itchiness of the eyelids or eyes.
  • Foreign body feeling as if there is a grain of sand in the eye.
  • Watery eyes.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Moments of blurring vision.
  • Symptoms worsening when in an air-conditioned room or when using PC.

 increase the oil produced by the glands and also softens it thus helps to dislodge hard crusted oil that blocks the meibomian glands. EYELID SCRUBS removes the oil and debris blocking the meibomian glands. A cotton bud or Q-tip dipped in a diluted baby shampoo can be used to clean off the excess oils. Alternatively, lid-care wipes that can be bought over the counter in most pharmacies can be used. Consuming OMEGA 3 fatty acids has been known to increase the production of healthier oil by the meibomian glands of the eyelid margins. MASSAGING using gentle pressure with the fingertips to the lid margin generally helps clear the glands. However, this must be done carefully without causing any injury to the eye. If the problem persists, then you will need to seek proper professional help.

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