Prevent Dry Eye Symptoms

Preventing MGD Is A Matter Of Good Hygiene

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Ongoing MGD prevention is achieved by taking routine care of our lids with basic hygiene practices. We regularly wash our face, shower, brush our teeth and wash our hands, but, unfortunately, most of us do not take the same care of our eyelids. Our modern lifestyle contributes to infrequent blinking, which impairs meibomian gland function and leads to MGD. MGD is so common that eye care professionals around the world now recognize it as the leading cause of dry eye and ocular discomfort. Caring for our lids on a regular basis, as children and adults, can go a long way to preventing MGD. In many cases, good lid hygiene is the first line of defense against MGD.

The Connection Between Dental Care and Eye Care

According to Caroline Blackie, OD, PhD, one of the foremost experts in MGD, “MGD is the gum disease of eye care”. Exploring what we all know to be true about preventing gum disease or cavities provides a direct analogy to preventing MGD. Dentists do not ignore plaque and only treat resulting problems with the teeth and gums. Dentists provide preventative care to prevent problems before they arise. Caring for patients with MGD is much the same. We can’t ignore the blockages that build up in our glands over time and only treat the resulting inflammation and symptoms. Thus, early intervention and detection is essential following these principles:

1

Adopt good daily lid hygiene and blink exercises to prevent problems or gland blockages that cause MGD.

2

Don’t wait for dry eye or MGD symptoms to develop. Ask an eye care professional to perform a simple check of your meibomian gland health.

3

Routine screenings for MGD at all ages, children and adults, are important. Eye care professionals should be doing so as a part of standard practice.

4

Find an eye care professional who has the imaging technology available to assess for structural miebomian gland damage to evaluate for MGD.

Blinking and Lid Margin Health

Once gland blockages occur, our glands do not function as well. If blocked glands remain untreated, there is significant risk for gland loss over time. While we can’t control aging, a factor that contributes to MGD, we can intervene early with regular blink exercises and good lid heath habits. Gland blockages can be assessed on a routine basis and MGD can be treated before symptoms negatively impact quality of life. At the very least, the long-term effect on meibomian gland structure may be reduced and healthy oil production from the glands may be maintained by intervening early.

Blinking Habits and MGD

When we blink properly, the meibomian glands release the protective oils that spread across the tear film. Partial blinking and lack of blinking, common in today’s digital society, impair healthy gland function and lead to blockages in the glands. One way to help our glands maintain their healthy function is daily blink exercises.

Follow these simple steps on a regular basis to promote healthy gland function:

Blink Eyes to prevent Dry Eyes
Perform a sequence of deliberate lid closure and lid squeezing: Close your eyes, then squeeze your eyes closed, relax but keep your eyes closed, then open your eyes. Repeat this sequence 5 times in a row and perform the exercises three to four times a day. To remember to do the exercises regularly, it may help to link the exercises to an activity, such as washing hands or sitting down to a meal.

Lid Cleansing – Just Like Brushing Your Teeth

Most of us grew up with parents telling us to make sure we wash our face and brush our teeth. Why? Because keeping our face clean is essential to good hygiene, and brushing our teeth prevents the occurrence of plaque, cavities and gum disease. Another natural part of our daily hygiene, like washing our face and brushing our teeth, is taking a minute to clean our lids or, specifically, the lid margin. Cleaning the lid margin removes debris that can build up over time and contribute to gland obstruction, ultimately leading to MGD.

Clean lower lid to avoid Dry Eye

 

Clean upper lid to avoid Dry Eye

 

  1. Moisten the end of a cotton swab with mineral oil or lightly coat it with petroleum jelly.
  2. Pull the lower lid down so that the margin is visible. Visually divide the lower lid into three sections. Scrub each section 5 times. (Photo 1)
  3. For upper lid scrubs, grasp the upper lid so that the upper lid margin is visible. Use the same technique as for lower lid scrubs. (Photo 2)

Routine screening and evaluation are essential in the early detection and intervention of MGD to prevent permanent meibomian gland loss.

Ask an eye care professional to check for MGD.

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