Dry, irritated eyes can interrupt your day and make concentrating difficult. Cases of dry eye disease are increasing for a variety of reasons, but fortunately, treatment technology is advancing to help address the cause of dry eye disease. There are a variety of treatments to unblock meibomian glands, from in-office therapies to home remedies.
Most dry eye cases are linked to meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), and unclogging the glands from obstructions can help treat the root of the problems instead of just managing the symptoms. The team at Evolutionary Eye Care can perform a comprehensive eye exam to help determine the root cause of your dry eye.
What Is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)?
Meibomian glands are responsible for producing the oil layer of the tear film. In normal eyes, the tear film is made of a combination of the top lipid layer, the middle aqueous layer, and the bottom mucus layer.
Most dry eye cases result from dysfunction in the oil layer—the meibomian glands are blocked and struggle to produce oil, making tears evaporate too quickly.
Tears are critical to protecting your eyes from debris, infection, and environmental conditions. Well-balanced tears keep the cornea and conjunctiva healthy with continuous lubrication and nourishment.
Symptoms of MGD
- Gritty sensation
- Blurry vision
- Watery eyes
- Feeling like there’s a foreign particle in your eye
- Discharge or crusting
- Contact lenses feeling uncomfortable
Risk Factors for MGD
Dry eye is becoming increasingly common and affects millions of Americans, leaving them with uncomfortable symptoms that make it difficult to work and enjoy leisure time.
While anyone can acquire dry eye as a result of MGD, some factors increase your risk of developing the condition, including:
- Natural aging
- Some medications
- Hormonal changes
- Wearing contact lenses too long
- Improper contact lens care
- Excessive use of digital screens
- Vitamin and nutrient deficiency
- Environmental conditions like wind or smoke
- Improper makeup removal
If you’re struggling with dry eye symptoms, managing some risk factors with lifestyle changes—like thoroughly removing makeup, getting enough omega-3, and reducing screen time—can help reduce the discomfort.
Unclogging Meibomian Glands
When the oil glands on the eyelid margin are blocked, the best long-term treatment includes removing the obstruction to promote healthy oil production. Here are some ways to help unclog your meibomian glands.
A simple home remedy, a warm compress or mask can gently heat the glands to loosen oil blockages. Following warm compress treatment, you can gently massage the eyelids to help the buildup break down and unblock the glands.
Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT)
Low level light therapy has long been used in other areas of medicine for a variety of treatments, but it’s showing positive results with MGD. LLLT uses invisible light to reduce inflammation and discomfort. It has been shown to improve the ocular surface conditions and tear secretion, stimulating the lacrimal gland and meibomian gland.
Unlike other light therapy, LLLT is considered athermal, so there’s no heat, and the technology uses photoactivation to repair damaged cells and improve cellular function, promoting tissue repair. It’s safe to use on the upper and lower lid, whereas other light therapies are concentrated on the lower portion of the eye. This allows LLLT to target the meibomian glands on the entire eyelid margin.
With the help of LLLT treatments or other advanced dry eye therapies, we can protect the ocular surface from lasting corneal damage from a lack of nutrients.
Prevent Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
To avoid recurring dry eye symptoms before they reappear, you can try some lifestyle shifts to minimize MGD.
- Use a humidifier
- Apply artificial tears
- Cleanse your eyelids and remove your makeup completely
- Take omega-3 supplements
- Use warm compresses
Even after we address the cause of your dry eye at the source, remaining diligent about retaining moisture in your eyes can prevent irritation, burning, or gritty sensations from returning.
Restore Hydration to Your Eyes
Dry eye isn’t a condition you have to live with. If home remedies haven’t worked or you want to target MGD to rebalance your tears, book an appointment with Evolutionary Eye Care for a thorough diagnostic exam.
We’ll examine your eyes and recommend a personalized dry eye treatment plan to help get your vision feeling comfortable again! Visit us at one of our locations in the Houston area.