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How Do You Know if You Have Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?

If you have dry eyes that linger after topical treatments, you’re not alone. While dry eyes are common, it’s likely that most over-the-counter treatments have let you down. But how do you know if your dry eyes are a one-off inconvenience or a more persistent condition caused by Meibomian Gland Dysfunction? 

What is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)?

To determine if you have symptoms of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), understanding the basics of the dysfunction can eliminate confusion. At a high level, the tiny Meibomian Glands that line our eyelids produce a critically important oil, called meibum.  Every time we blink, these glands secrete a small amount of oil to coat our eyes and act as a shield to cover our tear fluids and prevent the tear film from evaporating.  When these glands are blocked, inflamed or irritated, less oil is available to protect the tear film.  Less protective oil means more evaporation, which causes the dry eye symptoms millions of people experience each day.  

Key Symptoms of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

The most obvious symptom of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction is dry eyes. However, the impact of MGD isn’t just inconvenience.  Many people experience discomfort to the point of pain and also suffer from blurry vision. Some key elements that prevent MGD from being a momentary nuisance include: 

  • Persistent/constantly dry eyes – a blockage in the Meibomian glands typically doesn’t resolve itself, meaning that there is consistently a lack of meibum in the tear fluid layer. This means that dry eyes don’t just occur – they recur until the cause is treated.
  • Sensitivity – your eyes aren’t just dry, they’re sensitive to outside factors. Outside factors like looking at a screen for more than a brief period, or irritation caused by fans or A/C. You know that discomfort is more than just an irritation – it takes you away from your life. 
  • Irritation – Closely related to sensitivity, your eyes may not only react poorly to movement or light, but these stimuli may even cause pain that mimics a burning sensation.
  • Blurred Vision – The oil in your eyes coats the surface of the eyes to prevent evaporation.. While there are 20-30 glands per eyelid, often only a few may be clogged. This leads to inconsistent meibum distribution which creates uneven levels of evaporation at various spots in our tear film. These “thin spots” in the tear film refract light differently than surrounding areas in the field of vision, which sends mixed signals to vision receptors – causing blurry vision. 

There are many other symptoms of MGD, but the most important takeaway is the persistence of any of these symptoms, as this can be the most telling indicator of MGD, rather than other causes of dry eye symptoms. 

How Do You Treat Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?

While MGD and the symptoms that come with the blocked glands are unpleasant, effective treatment is seamless. Conventional treatments for MGD have included warm compresses, damp cloths and other therapies of heat application. These Meibomian Gland Dysfunction treatments have stood the test of time specifically because when used as recommended by doctors, they can work to unclog the glands, unlike artificial tears, which don’t treat the blocked glands. As the first product to combine the heat of a compress with an eyelid cleaning pad premoistened with a special cleaning and moisturizing solution, EverTears® modernizes the tried and true approach. The sterile pad gently heats the eyelid to the precise temperature needed to help melt solidified meibum back to a liquid state where it can begin to flow again.  Once the heat breaks down the blockages, EverTears® is the only heated compress that also includes a proprietary cleaning and moisturizing solution with hyaluronic acid (HA) and coconut extracts to wipe away the debris. EverTears® was invented by doctors as a convenient treatment for MGD to give dry eye sufferers a choice: to restore their body’s ability to retain their natural tears, or constantly be forced to use “artificial tears” for temporary relief. 

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