Identifying The Leading
Causes of Dry Eye Syndrome

When Dry Eye Is Caused By Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)

The cause of Dry Eye has not been easily diagnosed in the past, due to the fact that most eye care professionals have focused on a lack of tear production. Much research has been performed on Dry Eye causes in the past 20 years, and it is now known that, in most patients who present Dry Eye symptoms, tear production is not the primary problem. In fact, tear deficiency as a cause of Dry Eye is quite rare. For the overwhelming majority of patients with Dry Eye symptoms, blocked glands (Meibomian glands) in the eyelids are the root cause of Dry Eye Symptoms. There is an insufficient production of essential oils to protect the tear film, leaving the eye exposed and causing Dry Eye symptoms. Detecting MGD at its earliest stages is imperative to ensure long-term tear film health and avoid Dry Eye symptoms. Today, there are various tests that can be performed during your eye exam to assess Meibomian gland function and structure. Assessing Meibomian gland function and structure is essential to help your doctor determine an appropriate course of action.

Evaluating Gland Function and Tear Film Health

When your eye care professional is checking gland function, the goal is to evaluate if the Meibomian glands are secreting the right amount of oil and if the oil is of the right consistency. An assessment of gland function requires that a small amount of controlled pressure be placed over the eyelids to observe what comes out of the glands. This pressure can be applied with the help of an instrument or the doctor can lightly use their thumb or finger. The pressure is very gentle and should not cause any discomfort. The pressure is applied while you are seated at the slit lamp, so the doctor can view the gland secretions under magnification.

A Picture Tells The Story of Meibomian Gland Structure

Evaluating the structure of the Meibomian glands is essential to understand how to manage your Meibomian glands over the long term. The best way to image the glands is using breakthrough imaging technology or Dynamic Meibomian Imaging® (DMI). DMI is a picture that is taken of your eyelids that shows you and your eye care professional:

  • The appearance of the glands that you do have
  • The presence of gland loss or structural changes over all
Minimal Structural Changes
Significant Gland Loss

When MGD is present and not treated, the glands can begin to atrophy, much like what happens to muscles if they are not used. Gland loss can present a serious long-term problem, as there is no way to restore gland function when the glands are no longer present.

Instruments Used for Imaging Meibomian Glands

There are two main instruments on the market today used for imaging Meibomian Glands. They are the LipiView II and LipiScan. Ask your eye care professional if they have these instruments available in their practice. While there may be other means for evaluating gland function and structure, these two instruments are the only ones that offer Dynamic Meibomian Imaging, providing high resolution images of your gland structure.

LipiView II