What Is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?

Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is a common eye condition, yet many people don't realize they have it. You get it when there's a problem with a few dozen tiny glands in your eyelids that help make the oil layer of your tears.

What Happens

These meibomian glands, named after the German doctor who studied them, make an oil called meibum. Meibum, water, and mucusform the three layers of tear film, the fluid that keeps your eyes moist. The oil helps prevent the water layer on the eye surface from evaporating or drying out too quickly.

Changes to the amount or quality of the oil, or to the glands themselves, can lead to MGD. It's often the result of a combination of things. The most common type, obstructive MGD, happens when the gland openings get clogged, and less and less oil reaches the eye surface.

Your doctor will tailor treatment based on the stage of your MGD as well as any underlying medical condition you have.


Age plays a part; the number of meibomian glands goes down over time. So does your ethnicity; Asian people are about three times more likely to get MGD than people with a European ancestry.


Wearing contact lenses makes you more likely to get it.

Common medical issues linked to MGD are:

Some medications can cause problems with oil production, including:

  • Estrogen replacement therapy
  • Drugs that reduce androgen
  • Retinoids, from acne medication to anti-aging creams



In its early stage, you might not have any.

But as MGD progresses and you have less oil or poor-quality oil in your tear film, your eyes may burn, itch, or be irritated or dry. It might feel like you have a grain of sand or dust in your eye. An irritated, inflamed eyelid may be red.

The inner rim of your eyelid looking uneven or rough is a classic sign of MGD, but not everyone has it.

Some people have moments of blurred vision that improves when they blink.

Symptoms can get worse when you're on the computer for a long time or if the air in your home or office is very dry, either from air conditioning or heating.

Sourced from WebMD