Cure_ARTICLES POSTS_SM_2023_Dr Magdel Putter

Meibomian Gland Dysfunctions

by: Dr Magdel Putter, MB ChB (UOFS) Dip Ophth (SA) FC Ophth (Stell) MMed (Stell)
Paarl Eye Centre, Bo Lang street, Paarl, 021 8711368
Maretha Basson B.Optom (UFS)

The Meibomian glands produce the outer oily layer of the tear film which prevents evaporation of tears. The tear film protects, nourishes, and lubricates your eyes. A poor-quality tear film leads to burning, grittiness, discomfort, and blurry vision.

An eye doctor may press gently on your eyelids to see if the openings are blocked and to evaluate the quality of the oil that comes out.

Causes and risks:

  • MGD is usually caused by many contributing factors in combination.
  • Risk factors include:
  • Older age
  • Contact lens wear
  • A diet lacking in Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Systemic diseases: e.g., rosacea, auto-immune conditions
  • Environmental factors: climate (temperature, humidity, wind)

Symptoms include:

  • Itching                    
  • Burning                  
  • Watery eyes                     
  • Redness (eye and/or eyelid)
  • Crusting on eyelid margin                      
  • Foreign body sensation in the eye
  • Intermittent blurry vision that may improve with blinking   
  • Stye/pimple on the lid margin


The most important treatment is lid hygiene.

The following steps should be followed twice a day:


Heat:  Hold a warm cloth or microwavable eye bag on closed eyelids for 2-3 minutes to soften the oil in the glands. Be careful not to burn your eyelids.


Using your finger, gently apply pressure while slowly rolling your finger towards the eyelid margin.


Clean edges of eyelids with commercially available products.

An eye specialist will be able to evaluate the condition and prescribe the appropriate medical treatment, e.g.: 

artificial tear drops     |     anti-inflammatory drops     |     antibiotics (tablets/drops)

Meibomian gland dysfunction is a chronic condition with occasional flare-ups.  There is no cure for MGD, but symptoms can be successfully managed with continued care.

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