Meibomian Glands Were Discovered 350 Years Ago. Why Do You Care?

Meibomian Glands Were Discovered 350 Years Ago. Why Do You Care?

Miebomian Glands. That is one strange sounding name for glands. What are they? For that matter, where are they? You’ve most likely never heard of them, so why do they matter? There are answers to all of those questions and, if you think you have Dry Eye or been told you have Dry Eye, you really care about those answers because your eye health depends on it.

Dr. Heinrich Meibom, discovered Meibomian glands in the mid 1600’s, over 350 years ago, hence the unusual name. What Dr. Meibom did not know was the role these tiny glands would play in eye health and the impact they would have on the well-being of millions of people with Dry Eye symptoms. Thanks to Dr. Meibom and his early discovery, Meibomian Gland health is now becoming an essential part of eye care. And it was his foresight that led to another groundbreaking revelation by a panel of experts in 2011, that the leading cause of Dry Eye is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction or MGD.

Those tiny meibomian glands in our eyelids are responsible for producing essential oils or, medically known as meibum. The meibum spreads into the tears every time we blink and is critical for the health of our eyes. This oily layer is also the most commonly compromised component of the tears. Many experts now believe this is related to our modern lifestyle. MGD is the leading cause of Dry Eye in 86% of patients presenting with Dry Eye symptoms, but there is good news. We can now treat meibomian gland blockages at very early stages. The bad news is that, if left untreated, permanent gland damage is almost certain.

Dry Eye Sufferers Should Celebrate Meibomian Gland Discovery

At first glance, the discovery of Meibomian Glands may not seem like such an epic event. However, now that we know what happens when these tiny glands do not function properly, the health of the Meibomian Glands is no doubt significant to those with Dry Eye and MGD. Today, eye care professionals with the right technology can properly treat MGD. And to think, it started with Dr. Meibom identifying glands that most of us have never heard of: the meibomian glands.


If you have Dry Eye, then it is highly likely that your meibomian glands may be impaired and causing your Dry Eye Symptoms. MGD is a progressive problem that starts early, so whether or not you currently have Dry Eye symptoms, screening for MGD is essential. In the earliest stages of MGD, there may be minor indications like burning, watery eyes that will worsen over time as MGD progresses and symptoms become more severe.

If Dr. Meibom were here today, he would certainly recognize the experts who connected the dots and have revolutionized the care of Dry Eye with the technology to treat MGD.  He would also most likely be one of eye care’s biggest advocates. He would tell you to ask your eye care professional to screen for MGD early and to ensure proper treatment with FDA cleared LipiFlow. Let’s join together Dry Eye Sufferers and celebrate Dr. Meibom’s little known discovery, the Meibomian Glands. While we are at it, let’s also celebrate the more recent vision of the experts for their recognition of MGD, now known as the leading cause of Dry Eye.


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