To access all features and enjoy the full functionality of this site, please ensure your browser is up-to-date. For IE8 users, the most recent version is IE11.

Ocular Surface

Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)

Published on Sep 15, 2018
10 Minutes Read

MGD is a chronic and progressive condition1,2,3

The outermost layer of the tear film, the lipid layer, is composed of oils from meibomian gland secretions that lubricate, prevent evaporation, and perform barrier functions. If glands become obstructed, qualitative and quantitative changes in glandular secretion may lead to symptoms of eye irritation, clinically apparent inflammation, and ocular surface disease.4

In one study, up to 86% of dry eye patients had signs of MGD.5

Understanding MGD

View the videos below to learn about the role of meibomian glands in ocular health

Ocular surface and gland function in a healthy eye

In a healthy eye, pressure from a blink expresses a small amount of oil from the meibomian glands which is then distributed over the ocular surface as the eye opens. The ocular surface is the foundation for ocular comfort and visual quality.6

Impact of blocked meibomian glands

Obstruction of meibomian glands impedes the production of oils necessary to reduce aqueous evaporation and minimize harmful friction between the eyelids and cornea.

Long-term effects of untreated MGD

If left untreated, obstructed glands will reduce oil production, atrophy, and eventually drop out. Once a gland has atrophied completely, function is lost permanently, which leads to chronic discomfort and potentially sight-threatening damage to the ocular surface.

Functioning vs. Blocked Glands


MGD and Dry Eye Facts

In one study, up to 86% of dry eye patients had signs of MGD5
Over 745 million people worldwide suffer from dry eye8
In one study, 63% of cataract patients have an unstable tear film7
In one study, 60% of contact lens wearers had a sign of MGD10

The ocular surface is the foundation for ocular comfort and visual quality and it is impaired in much of the general population4,6

Assessing Meibomian Glands


Blocked eyelid oil gland secretion


By simulating the pressure of a deliberate blink, the Meibomian Gland Evaluator (MGE) provides a standardized, repeatable evaluation of meibomian gland function during slit lamp examinations.

Meibomian glands in dynamic illumination view


Dynamic Meibomian Imaging (DMI) technology available with LipiScan® Dynamic Meibomian Imager and LipiView® II Interferometer simultaneously employs surface illumination and high-definition transillumination to provide an accurate visualization of gland morphology.


Improving Gland Function

LipiFlow® in office treatment image

The unique technology of the LipiFlow® Thermal Pulsation System has been shown to improve gland function in patients with MGD.10

By simultaneous application of heat and peristaltic motion to the eyelid, obstructed meibum is safely liquefied and pushed out of the gland orifices.

Images for illustrative purposes only. Actual results may vary. Not actual patients or healthcare professionals.


1. Korb DR, Henriquez AS. Meibomian gland dysfunction and contact lens intolerance. J Am Optom Assoc. 1980 Mar;51(3):243-51.

2. Schaumberg DA, Nichols JJ, Papas EB et al. The international workshop on meibomian gland dysfunction: report of the subcommittee on the epidemiology of, and associated risk factors for, MGD. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2011 Mar 30;52(4):1994-2005.

3. Nichols KK, Hanlon SD, Nichols JJ. A Murine Model for Characterizing Glandular Changes in Obstructive Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. ARVO 2014, Abstract #14-A0002.

4. Nichols KK, Foulks GN, Bron AJ, et al. (2011) The international workshop on meibomian gland dysfunction: executive summary. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 52: 1922–1929

5. Lemp MA, Crews LA, Bron AJ, Foulks GN and Sullivan BD. Distribution of Aqueous-Deficient and Evaporative Dry Eye in a Clinic-Based Patient Cohort: A Retrospective Study. Cornea. 2012. May; 31(5): 471-8.

6. Nichols, K. K. (2014). The Ocular Surface and Successful Contact Lens Wear (Rep.).

7. Trattler, W.B. et al. ASCRS 2011 (Rep.).

8. Market Scope 2019 Dry Eye Report. REF2020TS4003

9. Tomlinson A, Bron AJ, Korb DR, et al. The international workshop on meibomian gland dysfunction: report of the diagnosis subcommittee. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2011 Mar 30;52(4):2006-49.

10. LipiFlow® Instructions for Use: International.