Conservative treatment of meibomian gland dysfunction

Eye Contact Lens. 2004 Jan;30(1):14-9. doi: 10.1097/01.ICL.0000095229.01957.89.


Purpose: To evaluate the effectiveness of lid hygiene and preservative-free artificial tears for the treatment of meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) during a 6-week period.

Methods: Suitable patients with MGD were educated about their disease and instructed to begin a regimen of lid hygiene, which included the application of a heated saline solution and the use of nonpreserved artificial tears. Baseline measurements obtained at the time of enrollment included basic tear secretion test, tear breakup time, a questionnaire grading MGD symptoms (i.e., burning, irritation, itching, sharp pains, foreign body sensation, and hazy vision), and lid margin slitlamp photographs. All measurements except for basic tear secretion were repeated at the 6-week follow-up visit. Photographs were unlabeled, and two cornea specialists graded them in a masked fashion for the presence of lid erythema, irregularity, thickness, meibomian gland capping, and telangiectasis.

Results: Thirty-seven patients with a clinical diagnosis of MGD were enrolled, and 26 patients (70%) completed the study. Initial measurement of basic tear secretion averaged 17 mm and was more than 10 mm in 81% of eyes. The tear breakup time was prolonged by an average of 3.4 seconds; in 30% of cases, it was normalized to 10 seconds or more. Symptoms improved in 88% of cases; among those, symptoms were graded mild or less in 83%, and none in 39%. Photographs before and after treatment were not significantly different.

Conclusions: In this noncontrolled case-cohort study of selected patients with MGD, lid hygiene and preservative-free artificial tears significantly improved tear breakup time and relieved symptoms of the condition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Eyelid Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Eyelid Diseases / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hygiene
  • Male
  • Meibomian Glands / drug effects*
  • Meibomian Glands / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Ophthalmic Solutions / administration & dosage*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sodium Chloride / administration & dosage*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tears / metabolism


  • Ophthalmic Solutions
  • Sodium Chloride