Meibomian glands are the oil-producing glands located in both the upper and lower eyelids. They number
about 25 to 30 per lid and normally slowly release oil into the tear film. This oil acts as a barrier to stop
the water in the tears from evaporating into the atmosphere, 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 unclog the glands which are blocked and prevent them from blocking up again as much as
possible. Fish Oil Capsules help people with MGD and are recommended to be taken with a cold drink. In
addition to warm compresses described below, commercial preparations may be recommended by your
eyecare professional such as iLid Cleanser® and OCuSOFT® Lid Scrub Wipes.
A) The first part of unblocking the glands is to liquefy the thickened oil in the glands. This is achieved by
running a washcloth under the hot tap until it is warm but not hot. Hold this against the closed eye for
about one minute or so.
B) Next, press firmly on the lower lid, pushing upward to expel the oil up into the tear film. 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.
Before: note congealed oil. After: note liquid oil ready to cover tears.