Chronic dry eyes cause eye irritation, redness, and other uncomfortable symptoms. The most common cause of dry eye disease is meibomian gland dysfunction. Our board-certified ophthalmologist offers dry eye treatment in West Palm Beach.
What Are the Meibomian Glands?
The eyelids protect your eyes from injury and keep the conjunctiva and cornea moisturized by supplying the oil necessary for a healthy tear film and spreading tears over the eye’s surface each time you blink. The inner eyelids are lined with mucous membranes, and each eyelid secretes lubricating oil from meibomian glands on the edges of the eyelids. The upper eyelids have 25 to 40 meibomian glands, and the lower eyelids have 20 to 30.
Healthy tear film quality and quantity rely on three layers from the inside lining the cornea to the outside as follows: mucus, aqueous (water), , and oil (lipid). Any disruption in these three parts can cause irritation, dryness, and blurred vision. Adequate oil secretion from the meibomian glands is crucial for a healthy tear film. This is because the oily layer prevents evaporation of the aqueous layer. So when it is deficient, dryness will occur.
What Is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) is one of the primary causes of dry eyes and happens when these glands don’t produce enough meibum (oil) or make poor-quality oil. MGD typically occurs when the oil glands become blocked with thick secretions that prevent the normal flow of oil and affect tear quality by reducing the quantity of oil on the eye’s surface. The amount of oil that does get through the clogged glands is crusty and poor quality, and only adds to eye irritation. MGD causes dry eye symptoms and eyelid inflammation.
Chronic MGD makes oil getting through the blocked glands nearly impossible and may lead to permanent tear film damage, dry eye syndrome, and eyelid inflammation. People with meibomian gland dysfunction may experience these symptoms:
- Burning sensations
- Watery eyes
- Blurred vision
- Foreign object sensations
- Crusty discharge
How Is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction Diagnosed?
Dr. George Khouri can diagnose MGD during a comprehensive eye exam. He may apply pressure to your eyelids to observe oil secretion and evaluate your tear film’s quantity, stability, and quality. If Dr. Khouri suspects MGD, he will discuss your treatment options during your appointment. He may suggest using artificial tears and mineral oil drops to improve the tear film and Omega-3 fatty acid supplements to increase oil density.
If you struggle with dry eyes, contact Palm Beach Eye Center to schedule an eye exam. You can request an appointment with Dr. Khouri online or call our West Palm Beach, Florida, office at (561) 366-8300.