What is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)?

Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is the leading cause in what many people would call having “dry eyes”. It may also be one of the most common eye problems, you have never heard of. But what is MGD and how do you know if you have it?

MGD is when the glands of your eyes are not working properly and can not produce the oily layer of your tears. Our normal tears are made up of three layers: an oily (lipid) layer, a watery (aqueous) layer, and a stickier (mucous) layer. If the oily (lipid) layer is not working, this allows the watery (lipid) layer of the tears to dry out.

Meibomian glands can be found inside the eyelids and are the very small openings on the edge of eyelids. But when these glands become blocked, the oily part of the tears are not released. If it is not treated, the meibomian glands can stop working permanently.

Symptoms of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)

In its early stage, you might not have any.

But as MGD progresses and you have less oil or poor-quality oil in your tear film, your eyes may burn, itch, or be irritated or dry. It might feel like you have a grain of sand or dust in your eye. An irritated, inflamed eyelid may be red.

The inner rim of your eyelid looking uneven or rough is a classic sign of MGD, but not everyone has it.

Some people have moments of blurred vision that improves when they blink.

Symptoms can get worse when you’re on the computer for a long time or if the air in your home or office is very dry, either from air conditioning or heating.


MGD is the most common cause of dry eye syndrome (also called dry eye disease). MGD may lead to eyelid inflammation, called blepharitis, especially along the rims.

There’s a lot of overlap among these three conditions, and it’s possible to have them all at once. In fact, experts aren’t entirely sure what comes first, or exactly how they’re connected. It could be that MGD causes inflammation that leads to dry eye, or that inflammation from dry eye could hurt the meibomian glands.


Understanding how to treat MGD will be an important step to take with your optometrist after diagnosis.

At our Dry Eye & Ocular Surface Disease Clinic, our medical team will work with you and your symptoms to create the best treatment plan. Our doctor and associates can carry out the following in-house medical treatments for blepharitis at our Dry Eye & Ocular Surface Disease Clinic:

Lipiflow – Thermal Pulsation Treatment: This melts any material that is obstructing the Meibomian glands.

Intense pulsed light therapy (IPL): This can open clogged eyelid glands.

In addition to our in-office treatments, we will create a personalized treatment plan potentially including at home treatment regimens that include:

  • Warm compresses – to loosen crusts
  • Lid cleansing – to remove crusts
  • Massage – to express the small oil glands of the eyelids
  • Supplements – Omega 3 Fatty Acids

MGD is a serious and complex condition that many suffer from. Contact the Dry Eye & Ocular Surface Disease Clinic today if you have symptoms of MGD and want help today.