How To Prevent Dry Eyes From Becoming Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
Helen Brandenborg, OD
Dry eyes and dental hygiene?
It’s time to take care of our eyes as much as we pay attention to our teeth. After a visit to our dentist we brush and floss our teeth daily to maintain good oral hygiene. What about our eyes? After an eye exam, how can we prevent progressive conditions such as meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD)?
Given that close to 90% of dry eye suffers have a component of meibomian gland dysfunction, there are routines that can be done on a daily basis to keep these oil glands functioning properly. Meiboman glands line our eyelid margins and secrete oil every time we blink to cover the surface of the eye, prevent our tears from drying out and keep our eyes healthy. If these oil glands do not secrete enough oil or a poor quality oil it can lead to dry eye symptoms.
Whether it’s left over sleep particles or make-up residue sitting on your eyelids or eyelashes, this debris can cause a build up of bacteria that can irritate your eyes and cause meibomian glands to become obstructed.
A simple lid cleaning in the morning to remove any sleep particles or last thing at night to remove eye make-up can prevent an overgrowth of bacteria on your eyelids, a condition referred to as blepharitis. There are several lid cleaning wipes available such as Systane® Lid Wipes, Blephaclean® or Lid-Care® Towelettes which are specifically designed for the delicate eyelid skin and are gentle and effective at removing debris.
There are microbes that may be present on our eyelids that need more attention with specialized lip wipes or in office treatments like BlephEx® to provide a deep cleaning of your eyelids. Demodex, a very common eyelid infection that increases as we get older, can be diagnosed during an examination by your eye care doctor.
This easy lid cleaning routine can reduce MGD and dry eye syndrome that increases in incidence as we age.
What else can we do?
Take a short break from digital devices throughout the day to give your eyes a rest as we tend to stare at screens which causes your eyes to dry out much faster.
Keep humidity levels higher in your environment in the winter and in the summer make sure air conditioning in the car or at home are directed away from your eyes.
Apply a warm compress to your eyelids to unclog obstructed oil glands. If you notice an improvement in the comfort of your eyes after a warm compress, talk to us about Lipiflow®, an in office eyelid heat treatment to improve meibomian gland function and reduce dry eye symptoms.
Take omega 3 supplements to improve the quality of oil produced in your meibomian glands. Ask your eye care doctor which type of omega 3 supplement is best for you. Keep in mind they are not all the same! More about this on the next blog. Stay tuned!