MGD or Meibomian gland dysfunction is a blockage of the meibomian glands, located at the base of your eyelashes. MGD is a common eye condition but many people do not notice they have it. 

The tiny meibomian glands inside the eyelid create an oil named meibum. This oil, water, and mucus all together create tears, which keep your eyes moist. Meibum keeps the water layer on the eye surface from drying quickly.

Changes in oil quality or glands can lead to Meibomian gland dysfunction.


There are several risk factors identified with MGD. Age plays a part as the number of meibomian glands goes down over time. Ethnicity may also impact your chance to get MGD; Asian people are about three times more likely to get MGD than people from European ancestry.

Wearing contact lenses, the use of glaucoma medications, having high cholesterol, allergic conjunctivitis, lower androgen levels, rosacea, and Sjogren’s syndrome have all been associated with MGD.


In the early stages, MGD might not give any symptoms. As the disease progresses your eyes have less oil or poor quality oil which can make the eyes burn, itch, irritate, or dry. The inflamed eyelid can be red and it can feel like you have sand in the eye. Having the eyelid’s inner rim uneven or rough is also a common sign of MGD.


MGD does not have a single defined aspect. For this reason, your eye doctor looks at your eyelids in detail to inspect the tiny glands. Your doctor can also use Schrimer’s test to check if you make enough tears. Other techniques allow eye specialists to measure the quality of the meibum and how fast the tears evaporate.


To treat advanced MGD your doctor can prescribe eye drops, spray, creams, or pill medications such as:

  • Lubricants
  • Antibiotics for infections
  • Cyclosporine for the immune system
  • Steroid for inflammation

Your eye doctor can also help improve the symptoms in office with special equipment. If your eye doctor prescribes medications for MGD, it is important to stick to the treatment to reverse MGD or improve symptoms.