What Is Meibomianitis?
Many individuals may experience eye irritation. Sometimes the irritation may be from eyelid inflammation, which may worsen with time. Inflammation of the meibomian glands of the eyelid is called meibomianitis.
Meibomian glands are oil glands located in your upper and lower eyelids. These oil glands have tiny openings that release oil into the tear film of the eye providing your eyes with lubrication. If meibomian glands become blocked, they do not function as they should.
- Meibomianitis is chronic inflammation of the meibomian glands that can affect both your upper and lower eyelids.
- Meibomian glands are oil glands that consist of tiny openings that release oil, and their key function is to lubricate your eyes.
- Symptoms of meibomianitis include eye discomfort, blurry vision, swelling, redness
There are approximately 31 glands in the upper lid and around 26 glands in the lower lid, with the upper lid glands being around 5.5 millimeters in length, and the lower lid glands being around 2 millimeters in length. Each gland is roughly 1 millimeter wide. Meibomianitis is an inflammatory type of meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). Studies have linked meibomian gland dysfunction to dry eye disease and contact lens intolerance.
Risk Factors for Meibomianitis
Though the exact cause is unknown, there are contributing factors that may put you at risk for meibomianitis.
Meibomian gland function declines with age much like other glands or organs. Proper diagnosis and treatment of MGD and meibomianitis can help minimize ocular symptoms.
- Low Humidity
Living in an area with low humidity increases tear evaporation and can contribute to dry eyes. Both air conditioning and heat can exacerbate symptoms.
- Overwear Of Contact Lenses
Contact lenses may dry out your eyes. Using preservative-free artificial tears or switching to a more “breathable” daily disposable lens can improve eye health.
- Unhealthy Diet
Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for healthy eyes. You can improve eye health by eating omega-3 fatty acid-rich food including flax seed, olives, plant oils, seafood, eggs, yogurt, and juices.
Androgens regulate the function of both the lacrimal and meibomian glands. If an individual is deficient in androgen, which commonly occurs during menopause, they are at risk for MGD and dry eye disease.
Common symptoms of meibomianitis include:
- Uncomfortable, irritated eyes
- Inconsistent blurry vision (may improve with blinking)
- Swollen, red eyelid margins
- Watery, red eyes
When you begin to experience symptoms of meibomianitis, make an appointment to see your eye care specialist. Both optometrists and ophthalmologists can diagnose and manage meibomianitis.
- The doctor will ask about your medical history including systemic and ocular medications. The doctor may use sophisticated imaging called meibography to view your glands.
- Your doctor may use a tool to express your glands and squeeze out the oil to determine its consistency.
- Your eye doctor may recommend remedies to take better care of your eyelids. Eyelid hygiene may include a warm compress and lid cleanser.
- Oral antibiotics like tetracyclines may reduce inflammation and improve meibomian gland function.
- Omega-3 fatty acid supplements can help enhance your diet.
- Lid treatments using heat may be recommended if the condition is more severe.