Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) is perhaps the most common cause of dry eyes. The Meibomian Glands (MGs) are oil glands along your upper and lower eyelids. There are approximately 25-40 glands in the upper eyelid and 20-30 glands in the lower eyelids. These glands secrete meibum or oil onto the surface of your eye. The oil acts as a lubricant and also prevents your tears from evaporating. When these glands malfunction, you may have low oil output or poor quality secretions and consequently suffer dry eyes. You might have heard of the term Evaporative Dry Eye or Inflammatory Dry Eye, MGD is a form of both.
When you blink, your upper and lower eyelids squeezes and touch each other, and this pressure causes the MGs to express oil. Unfortunately, many of us are partial blinkers, meaning that when we blink, our eyelids don't actually touch each other! Compounding this effect, when we read or stare at computer monitors, our blink rate also decreases. Consequently, when we don't have full contact blinks, our MGs don't get used; and subsequently when they don't get used, the MGs get clogged and dysfunctional. Blinking exercises are very important to managing MGD.
MGD disproportionally affects East Asian descendents from China, Japan and Korea, and some studies estimate that Asians have more than 50% chance of developing MGD.
It is important to treat the underlying disease as early as possible. MGD if left untreated, can most likely cause permanent irreversible damage to your glands.
Finding a good doctor is one of the most important part of diagnosis and treatment. Many optometrists and opthamologists are not trained properly, or are not up to date on the latest dry eye research, diagnosis and treatment. I have personally seen over 10 different optometrists/opthamologists across Canada/USA/Hong Kong, and many have misdiagnosed me and/or gave me out-of-date treatment plans. Time is critical, your disease can progress irreversibly without proper medical treatment. Consider checking out some of these dry eye specialist doctors.