Meibomian Gland Physiology in Pre- and Postmenopausal Women

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2017 Feb 1;58(2):763-771. doi: 10.1167/iovs.16-20811.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess the change of meibomian gland physiology during the menstrual cycle and compare its physiology among pre- and postmenopausal women and men.

Methods: This study involved 18 healthy subjects: 6 premenopausal women with a regular 28- to 30-day menstrual cycle, 6 postmenopausal women, and 6 men who were age-matched to the premenopausal women. All subjects measured basal body temperature every day at home and were seen once weekly for 5 weeks, and the menstrual state of the premenopausal subjects was masked until after the investigation. At each visit, the meibomian gland orifice (MGO) diameter, lid margin meibum level as meibometry value, meibomian gland morphology, and fluorescein breakup time (F-BUT) of tear film were evaluated, and serum samples were obtained for analysis of sex steroid hormones.

Results: The meibomian gland physiology showed cyclic change during the menstrual cycle. The MGO diameter and meibometry value of the meibomian glands decreased in the latter half of the luteal phase until menstruation, correlating well with a shortening of F-BUT. The MGO diameter and meibometry value were significantly higher in postmenopausal women and men than in premenopausal women; however, F-BUT was significantly longer in men than in pre-/postmenopausal women.

Conclusions: The findings of this study show that meibomian glands exhibit a cyclic change in premenopausal women, as well as sex- and age-related physiologic differences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Female
  • Fluorescein / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meibomian Glands / anatomy & histology
  • Meibomian Glands / physiology*
  • Menstrual Cycle / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause / physiology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Tears / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • Fluorescein