Efficacy of diagnostic criteria for the differential diagnosis between obstructive meibomian gland dysfunction and aqueous deficiency dry eye

Jpn J Ophthalmol. 2010 Sep;54(5):387-91. doi: 10.1007/s10384-010-0858-1. Epub 2010 Nov 5.


Purpose: To evaluate diagnostic criteria for obstructive meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) using three parameters (symptom score, lid margin abnormality score, and meibomian gland morphologic change scores) for differentiating obstructive MGD from aqueous deficiency dry eye (ADDE).

Methods: Twenty-five eyes of 25 patients (mean age, 66.6 years) diagnosed with obstructive MGD and 15 eyes of 15 patients (mean age, 61.3 years) diagnosed with ADDE were analyzed. Ocular symptoms were scored from 0 to 14 according to the number of symptoms. Lid margin abnormality was scored from 0 to 4 according to the number of abnormalities. Meibomian gland changes were scored from 0 to 6 using noncontact meibography (meibo-score). Superficial punctate keratopathy was scored from 0 to 3. Meibum was graded from 0 to 3 according to volume and quality. Tear film break-up time was measured consecutively three times after instillation of fluorescein, and the median value was adopted. Tear film production was evaluated using the Schirmer test.

Results: Ocular symptom and lid margin abnormality scores and tear film break-up time did not differ significantly between the obstructive MGD and ADDE groups. The meibum score and meibo-score were significantly higher in the obstructive MGD group than in the ADDE group. The Schirmer value was significantly lower in the ADDE group than in the obstructive MGD group. When obstructive MGD was diagnosed on the basis of three scores (ocular symptom score, lid margin abnormality score, and meibo-score) all being abnormal, the sensitivity and specificity for differentiating between obstructive MGD and ADDE were 68.0% and 80%, respectively.

Conclusions: Although the criteria were moderately reliable for differentiating patients with obstructive MGD from those with ADDE when the diagnosis of obstructive MGD was made on the basis of three abnormal scores, they do not provide comprehensive diagnostic tools for differentiating MGD, ADDE, and healthy individuals. We need to add other parameters such as the Schirmer test value and the meibum score to the diagnostic criteria to enhance their reliability for differentiating MGD and ADDE.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aqueous Humor / metabolism*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Ophthalmological / standards*
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / diagnosis*
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / metabolism
  • Eyelid Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meibomian Glands / pathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tears / metabolism