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Five Eye Problems Caused by Oil Gland Dysfunction

Your dry eyes can get in the way of living your life as intended. However, suffering from dry eyes can be so much more than just irritation or redness. Over 85% of cases of Dry Eye Disease are caused by Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, or MGD. This means the Meibomian glands, tiny oil-producing glands in the eyelids, can have a major impact on your daily life. When these glands are properly cared for, you can typically avoid dry, itchy eyes caused by MGD. With many treatments for dry eyes on the market, it can be hard to keep track of what is actually best practice. That’s why we’re covering common issues that arise from oil gland dysfunctions and how you can both prevent and treat them. 

  • What are some common problems caused by or related to dysfunctional oil glands?
    • Dry Eye Syndrome
    • Styes
    • Chalazions
    • Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
    • Ingrown Eyelashes
  • Best Hygiene Practices and Treatments for Oil Gland Dysfunctions
    • Hygiene for Oil Gland Dysfunctions
    • Treatments for Oil Gland Dysfunctions
  • Artificial Tears
  • Traditional Warm Compress
  • An Improved Warm Compress: EverTears®

What Is An Oil Gland Dysfunction?

To understand the best way to take care of your eyes, it’s important to know the main causes of dry eyes. The Meibomian glands generate the oil layer of the tear film that coats your eyes to keep them moist and lubricated. A combination of oil from these glands (meibum), water, and mucus creates the tear film that hydrates and protects your eyes. When the Meibomian glands create too little of this oil, or the glands become clogged and oil is prevented from reaching the eye, it can cause discomfort as well as other eye health-related issues.

1. Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry Eye Syndrome is simply another name for Dry Eye Disease. DED is common and affects millions of people every year. With symptoms that include dry, itchy and even red eyes, of this syndrome can expand into blurred vision and light sensitivity. In extreme cases, a grit-like, scratching sensation in the eye may be found. 

2. Styes

Styes, sometimes spelled “Stys”, can occur in the Meibomian gland near the base of the eyelash follicle. A localized infection within the oil glands of the eyelid, styes are often tender to the touch and inflamed. With physical similarities to boils and pimples, styes can be painful as well as highly visible. 

3. Chalazions (Eyelid Cysts or Meibomian Cysts)

Chalazions have multiple names, but are caused when the Meibomian glands are blocked causing a buildup of the oils that typically flow through ducts in our eyelids. Unlike a stye, chalazions are not tender and are often painless since they are not caused by an infection. Styes, however, may cause a chalazion after they subside. Chalazions are most common in people 30-50 years old.

4. Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

With Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), the quality or quantity of the meibum we discussed earlier changes, causing a change in the tear makeup. Typically, the result is a clog in the gland from eye makeup, debris or dried skin. This clog in the Meibomian gland causes your eyes to deliver less oil, or meibum, that covers the outside of our tear film. In a clog, the meibum becomes trapped, where it then solidifies and hardens; preventing movement to the tear film. The lack of adequate protective oils causes our tear film to evaporate more quickly. The end result? Dry, itchy or even burning sensations in the eye. 

5. Ingrown Eyelashes

Ingrown eyelashes can happen for a variety of reasons, including aging, eye infections, psoriasis or even anatomical reasons. However, an ingrown eyelash can also occur from a stye or a condition called an inverted eyelid (entropion). Inverted eyelids occur when the edge of the eyelid rolls, inward due to an oil gland dysfunction. This dysfunction can cause debris from the oil and skin to gather in the eye, building up enough of a blockage to cause inward movement. 

Treatments for Dry Eyes and Oil Gland Dysfunction

While an oil gland dysfunction can cause several medical side effects due an issue in the oil gland, fortunately, treatment and prevention is simple. 


Keeping the eyes and the area around the eyes clean is absolutely key. For the eye problems mentioned above, keeping foreign entities out of the eyes can help prevent many of these gland-related issues. By keeping the Meibomian glands clear, clogging, infections, and the introduction of debris can be avoided or minimized. 


While many issues may be remedied through hygiene, there are several schools of thought around relieving eye discomfort and pain: 

“Artificial Tears”

Many turn to “artificial tears” or chemical eye drops as an expedient solution. However, these over-the-counter drops provide only temporary relief. They have not been shown to to resolve the core problem of blocked Meibomian glands.

Traditional Warm Compress For the Eyes

Doctors have long recommended  the use of a warm compress to treat MGD at home. While a warm compress for the eyes does provide moisture, many people find it inconvenient to use compresses that require a microwave for heat and some are concerned about the risk that the microwave will overheat the compress and burn their eyelids.   

An Improved Warm Compress: EverTears®

Evolving from a warm compress, EverTears® is an FDA-registered treatment. A convenient, easy-to-use solution, EverTears® instantly provides the warmth of the traditional compress and a moisturizing cleaning solution without all the mess or microwave hassles. This combination helps manage the crusty build-up that blocks the glands. Once the build-up is loosened through the moisture and heat, the hygienic pads of EverTears® can be used to safely and easily remove blockages and clean the eyelids, making EverTears® a clear leader among the best dry eye remedies at home.

With a solution that is tailored to provide both symptom relief and help address the root cause of most dry eye cases , EverTears® by ThermaMEDx is the best way to treat and potentially prevent common eye gland dysfunctions.

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