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  • Writer's pictureDr. Zimski

Meibomian Gland Dysfunction & Dry Eye Syndrome

Most people don’t give eyelids much thought.

But they’re there, protecting your eyes, whether we are thinking about them or not. 

One of the ways eyelids work around-the-clock for you is by generating an oily secretion (meibum) via the meibomian glands along the edge of the eyelids.

Meibum is part of a defense mechanism that protects the eye’s surface from dust and other environmental dangers. This oily secretion is a component of your “tear film” and slows down the evaporation of critical eye moisture.

The Denver-area dry eye syndrome patients we help every day are often suffering from meibomian gland dysfunction, which means their eyelids aren’t working at full capacity to provide the necessary eye moisture. The consequences can range from minor irritation to severe (and permanent) eye damage.

Dr. Lauren Zimski helps Denver-area patients suffering from meibomian gland dysfunction. She’s been in practice in Denver for the past 15 years. Read on to learn more about this condition and about how Dr. Zimski can help you get back to healthy, comfortable eyes and a normal life.

Understanding Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is the leading cause of evaporative dry eye disease, a chronic disease that requires ongoing treatment from a dry eye specialist. Those who suffer from MGD aren’t producing the meibum needed for an effective tear film lipid layer. 

The dryness that results can lead to ocular and eyelid discomfort and even to scarring of the cornea (the clear dome of tissue covering the front of the eye). This damage can cause blurry vision and even vision loss.

Long-time dry eye sufferers know all too well about the inconvenience, pain and potential risks of their condition. Their first clue that they have MGD may not necessarily be dry eyes. Symptoms of the disorder include:

  • Burning eyes

  • Itchy eyes

  • Red eyes and eyelids

  • Crusty discharge

  • Watery eyes

  • Blurred vision

  • Light sensitivity

  • Chalazions/styes

  • The sensation of having debris or some sort of irritant in the eye

The risk of developing MGD increases after age 40. Additionally, women who wear eye makeup are at greater risk. Other risk factors include contact lens use and certain skin diseases.

MGD’s Long-Term Impact on Dry Eye Sufferers

Dry eye disease can lead to more serious issues that increase the risk of permanent damage to your eyes or significantly decrease your quality of life. Some severe problems associated with dry eye syndrome include:

  • Inflammation: In the absence of adequate tears to lubricate the eyes, inflammation and irritation can occur.

  • Corneal Ulcers: Corneal ulcers manifest as open sores on the eye's surface, resulting in pain, redness, and sensitivity to light.

  • Corneal scarring: If left untreated, dry eyes have the potential to cause permanent damage to the cornea. This, in turn, could lead to vision loss or even blindness.

As you can see, the persistent discomfort associated with chronic dry eyes can lead to more than just frustration; it can become a dire medical issue if left untreated. 

Identifying Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

A skilled ophthalmologist can connect the dots between your symptoms and the underlying cause, whether it’s MGD or something else.

Tests that evaluate meibomian gland function include:

  • Meibomian gland expression: The quality and quantity is assessed.  Ideally, meibum looks like olive oil, but it can become thickened like toothpaste

  • Measuring tear film break-up time: Short tear film break-up time is an indicator of evaporative dry eye and often is associated with poor oil expression. 

Lifestyle changes can alleviate some symptoms of meibomian gland dysfunction, and integrating self-care routines into daily life can yield results. But it takes a specialist who can understand and address your unique needs to deliver sustained comfort if you’re suffering from meibomian gland dysfunction.

In-office treatments include FDA-approved OptiLight Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy, which gives our patients safe, comfortable dry eye treatment with more precision and control than any other tool on the market. OptiLight dry eye therapy is effective and can be done with ease and precision in just 15-minute sessions, with minimal pain or discomfort.

Why Choose Dr. Lauren Zimski to Treat Your Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

The chronic nature of dry eye disease caused by meibomian gland dysfunction makes it difficult for patients to recognize the symptoms early on. But we’ve been able to help our patients learn to recognize what “normal” feels like again. It’s truly gratifying to see the results!

Dr. Zimski's comprehensive diagnostic approach helps her identify the root cause for each patient’s issues. Our team can help you with a personalized dry eye treatment plan that will deliver lasting relief!

Dr. Zimski would love to work with you. You can schedule your first appointment online, or contact us with any questions using our online form. Or if you prefer, you can give us a call at 303-863-1231.

image courtesy of Ophthalmology Breaking News


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