Meibomian glands are the oil-producing glands located in both the upper and lower eyelids. They number about 25 to 30 and normally slowly release oil into the tear film. This oil helps to stop the water in the tears from evaporating, thus helping to prevent dry eyes.
Sometimes the oil becomes slightly thicker than normal which can lead to blockage of the narrow duct which takes the oil from the gland to the tear film. The oil continues to be made and this can lead to filling and swelling of the glands, in addition to causing a dry eye, since the stabilizing oil cannot reach the tear film. Severe blockage can lead to much enlarged glands (a cyst) or even infection. It is therefore important to firstly, unclog the glands which are blocked and secondly to prevent them from blocking up again as much as possible. Omega – 3 or fish oils also help people with MGD and are recommended to be taken with a cold drink an stored in the fridge. In addition to warm compresses commercial preparations may be recommended by your eyecare professional, such as sterilid foam and lidcare wipes.
- The first part of unblocking the glands is to liquefy the thickened oil in the glands. This is achieved by running a face cloth under the hot tap until it is warm, but not hot.
- Hold this against the closed eye for about one minute or so (see figure One).
- Then, having liquefied the oils with this warming, press with one finger firmly on your cheek.
- Next, with the first-finger, press firmly on the lower lid, pushing upward to push the oil up into the tear film (see figure Two).
- Do this a few times over the entire lower eyelid, and then repeat for the upper eyelid.
- Repeat the entire procedure for the other eye. * Do this initially once per day for one week. This will help to unclog the blocked glands.
- After the first week, doing this once or twice per week should help prevent the glands from becoming reblocked.