Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

What is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?

MGD is a condition where the glands within the eyelids (Meibomian glands) become blocked or damaged, and therefore can’t secrete enough oil (meibum) that is required for a healthy tear film^1^. It can therefore result in ‘dry eye’ symptoms as the tears that sit on the front surface of the eye will evaporate at a much faster rate than normal^1^. The condition is very common and is thought to be one of the main causes of ‘dry eye’ disease^2^.

The openings of these glands are near the base of the eyelashes and when the eyes blink, clear oil should secrete out and provide the tears with a lubricating outer layer which serves to protect the watery tears from drying out^3^. With MGD, the oil is often solidified and the blockages can sometimes be seen as small yellow bumps on the eyelid margin.


Sometimes, there may be no obvious cause as to why the glands have been blocked^4^ however, some reasons why these obstructions can occur are due to^1^:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Contact lens wear

Other factors more recently associated with MGD are reduced blink rates and poor blink quality (impartial blinking) due today’s prolonged use of computer screens and digital devices^3^. Also diets that contain the correct balance of omega- 3 essential fatty acids may help suppress the inflammation associated with MGD and decrease the risk of waxy build-up within the meibomian glands^1^.



  1. All About Vision. Meibomian Gland. Available at: []
  2. Lemp MA et al. Distribution of aqueous-deficient and evaporative dry eye in a clinic based patient cohort. Available at: []
  3. Epstein A; The Chicken-and-Egg Problem of MGD and Contact Lens Wear; Review of Cornea and Contact Lenses; Oct 2016. Available at: []
  4. Henderson R; Madden L; Dry Eye Management; Optometry in Practice 2013 Volume 14 Issue 4 137 – 146
  5. American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. Meibomian Gland Dysfunction and Treatment. Available at: []
  6. Dispensing Optics. (2016) News, Information and Education for Opticians. Available at: [


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