Purpose: This study aimed to compare the efficacy of topical N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) with a topical steroid-antibiotic combination, betamethasone-sulfacetamide sodium therapy in patients with meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD).
Methods: Twenty patients with MGD were prospectively randomized and assigned into 2 groups. The patients were instructed to use either NAC 5% or a topical steroid-antibiotic combination, betamethasone 0.1%-sulfacetamide sodium 10%, topically 4 times a day for a month. All patients were instructed to apply lid hygiene once daily.
Results: One month of topical therapy provided statistically significant improvements in fluorescein break-up time and Schirmer scores as compared with the initial study visit in both groups (P≤0.001). Significant improvements for the symptoms of ocular burning, itching, and intermittent filmy or blurred vision were noted in both groups at 1 month as compared with 1 day (P<0.05). Considering these rates, there was no significant difference between the groups (P>0.05). None of the patients developed an allergic reaction to the medications, and intraocular pressure measurements were within the normal limits in both groups.
Conclusion: When used in conjunction with eyelid hygiene, topical administration of NAC appears to be as effective as a topical steroid-antibiotic combination, betamethasone-sulfacetamide sodium therapy in patients with MGD.