Dry eye is a chronic, progressive, irreversible eye condition caused by deficiencies in the quantity and quality of meibum or other tear components within the tear film. More than 30 million people in the United States suffer from dry eye and 86% of dry eye suffers report the clinical signs of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). However, less than half of patients suffering from MGD display any symptoms of the disease, and many may not even know they have the condition.
Symptoms of MGD
A protective layer of moisture, called the tear film, coats the front surface of your eyes every time you blink. The meibum is an oily layer of the tear film in your eyes secreted by the meibomian glands. When the meibomian glands become blocked or the secreted meibum is of poor quality, MGD occurs. MGD leads to poor quality tears that will lead to evaporative tear loss.
Symptoms of MGD include:
- Blurry vision
- Watery eyes
- Scratchy eyes
Although this disease currently has no cure, there are ways to effectively manage this condition. The goal of treatment is to unblock the Meibomian glands leading to symptom relief.
What are the Meibomian Glands?
There are approximately 31 Meibomian glands in your upper eyelid and about 26 glands in the lower lid. The glands in the upper eyelid are longer and produce more oil or meibum than the ones in the lower eyelid. Each gland contains little pockets called acini that act like an oil factory, producing meibum. These pockets produce the oil and push it out into the duct to exit the eyelid.
A muscle, called the orbicular oculi, inside the eyelid helps in “milking” the glands during a blink and pushing the oil to the opening and out into the eye. Once the oil exits the duct and is pushed onto the eye, the oil then forms the outer layer of the eyes called the lipid layer.
This oily outer layer serves to prevent evaporation of the aqueous middle layer of the tears. The inner layer against the eyeball consists of mucus secreted from cells to the front surface of the eye that assists in helping the aqueous layer spread evenly across the surface of the eye. Any dysfunction in the layers of the tears can be a problem.
Call Us to Schedule an Appointment
For more information about MGD, call Saddleback Eye Medical Associates at 949-364-0225.