Meibomianitis is inflammation of the meibomian glands, a group of oil-releasing (sebaceous) glands in the eyelids. These glands have tiny openings to release oils onto the surface of the cornea.
Meibomian gland dysfunction
Any condition that increases the oily secretions of the meibomian glands will allow excess oils to build up on the edges of the eyelids. This allows for the excess growth of bacteria that are normally present on the skin.
These problems can be caused by allergies, hormone changes during adolescence, or skin conditions such as rosacea and acne.
Meibomianitis is often associated with blepharitis, which can cause a buildup of a dandruff-like substance at the base of the eyelashes.
In some people with meibomianitis, the glands will be plugged so that there is less oil being made for the normal tear film. These people often have symptoms of dry eye.
Standard treatment involves:
These treatments will usually reduce symptoms in most cases.
Your health care provider may prescribe an antibiotic ointment to apply to the lid's edge.
Other treatments may include:
You may also need treatment for general skin conditions such as acne or rosacea.
Meibomianitis is not a vision-threatening condition. However, it may be a long-term (chronic) and recurring cause of eye irritation. Many people find the treatments frustrating because results are not often immediate. Treatment, however, will often help reduce symptoms.
Call your provider if treatment does not lead to improvement or if styes develop.
Keeping your eyelids clean and treating associated skin conditions will help prevent meibomianitis.
Kaiser PK, Friedman NJ. Lids, lashes, and lacrimal system. In: Kaiser PK, Friedman NJ, eds. The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Illustrated Manual of Ophthalmology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 3.
Valenzuela FA, Perez VL. Mucous membrane pemphigoid. In: Mannis MJ, Holland EJ, eds. Cornea. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 49.
Vasaiwala RA, Bouchard CS. Noninfectious keratitis. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 4.17.
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