We have oil glands within our eyelids that provide the oil layer of our tear film. If the oil in these glands is not released effectively, then it backs up and eventually hardens, which is called Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. Our natural blinking mechanism applies mild pressure, which allows the oil to be released into our tears. When the oil becomes thickened and stagnant, it cannot be released into the tears naturally, which can lead to permanent atrophy of the meibomian glands.
The oil component of the tears is crucial since it allows the tears to stay on the eye surface longer. When the oil layer in the tear film is reduced it leads to quicker tear evaporation, which leads to dry eye symptoms. Some of these symptoms can include burning, stinging, foreign body sensation, vision fluctuations and watery eyes from reflex tearing.
There are many causes that can lead to Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, such as excessive screen time, years of contact lens wear, poor diet, Accutane use, certain makeup use and much more. This specific diagnosis is the leading cause of dry eye symptoms today. It is highly recommended to treat this condition early to prevent permanent damage of the glands and achieve the best results from the treatments as well. Due to the chronicity of the condition, it is important to continue with maintenance treatments per your doctor’s recommendations.