How to Treat Meibomian Gland Dysfunction Naturally
Across the margin of the eyelids (the edges that touch when you close your eyes) lie some tiny oil glands, which are called the meibomian glands. You have about 31 meibomian glands in the top eyelid, and 31 in the lower lid. These glands perform an essential function in the eyelids and for the eyes. They secrete oil that coats the surface of the eye, thus preventing the watery tear layer from drying out and evaporating. Aside from this, the meibomian glands help to keep the ocular surface of the eyes clean and well lubricated at all times. The watery component in the tears, a mucus layer, and the oil secreted by the meibomian glands together makes the tear film.
These three layers of the tear film help to lubricate the eyes and keep it healthy. They’re also responsible for maintaining our vision. If anything goes wrong with this special component of our eyes, we might suffer from eye irritation or even worse, blurred vision.
MEIBOMIAN GLAND DYSFUNCTION
Like stated previously, Meibomian glands are responsible for releasing oil, or meibum, onto your eye. You basically have little oil factories in your eyelids, and those oil factories produce the meibum, or oil. This oil then releases into the meibomian glands and then goes down to the terminal duct where it exits onto the eye. This is assisted by a muscle in your eyelid, so every time you blink it milks that gland and releases that oil onto your eye.
When we have a dysfunction in this system, it’s called meibomian gland dysfunction. A common example is when the oil gland opening gets clogged up so that less oil is secreted through the gland. As a result, most of this oil gets trapped and cannot be secreted out of the gland. These oils become crusty, stagnant, and may begin to irritate the eyes and eyelids.
Some common symptoms of MGD include red, inflamed eyes, itchy eyes, grittiness and overall irritation of the eyes. Some people with MGD will also get a stye or two, which is basically a pimple on the eyelid which occurs due to bacteria build up.
HOW TO TREAT MEIBOMIAN GLAND DYSFUNCTION NATURALLY
Meibomian gland dysfunction can make you feel uncomfortable, and you may suffer from blurred vision because of it. Even at that, it is not without a remedy. There are natural methods of treating it as outlined below.
You can begin melting away the crustiness that has enveloped the oil glands and increase the release of oil from the glands by applying a mild heat onto them. This can be done by compressing the eyes gently using a clean towel which has been dipped in warm water. Leave it on the eyes for a few minutes and remove it.
However, a much easier way to go about this is to use a dry eye mask, such as the Heyedrate Dry Eye Mask. Instructions are simple. You’ll place the mask in the microwave on High for 15-20 seconds, test the temperature on the inside of your wrist to ensure it’s not too hot, and then lie back. Place the mask over your closed eyes for 10-20 minutes, and relax!
After using a warm compress, you want to coax the oils out of the meibomian glands. You can do this as you gently compress the eyes. Apply a light pressure on the lid margin using your fingertips. Then, manipulate your eyelids gently by rolling your finger downward on the upper eyelid and rolling it upward on the lower eyelid. This will strengthen the lid and increase the flow of oil from the glands. You can view a video about this here.
To scrub the eyelids and ensure they’re staying clean, use a hypochlorous acid eyelid cleanser. Heyedrate Lid and Lash Cleanser is a great option, although there are many others as well. Simply spray the closed eyelids with the solution, rub it in, and let it dry. You can also use a cotton ball or round to apply, but that’s up to you! By scrubbing the lids that way, the oil, debris, and bacteria that blocked the opening of the oil gland will be removed.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
For most people, supplementing their diet with omega-3 fatty acids helps to improve the quality of oil production and excretion from the oil glands. Omega-3 fatty acids could be derived from fish oil and flaxseed oil, and they can be taken in through diet alone by eating lots of fatty, farm-raised fish like wild caught salmon and mackerel. However, if you’d rather just supplement, which makes it easy to get your daily intake of omega-3, try out the Heyedrate Omega-3 for Eye Health.
LIPIFLOW, MIBO THERMOFLOW, IPL
Let’s go into Lipiflow first. Lipiflow is when they apply heat to the eyelids with a thermal pulsation device, which then pulsates the eyelids as well. So, essentially what you are doing there is heating up the oil glands, but it’s much more effective than warm compresses. Just like any oil, when you heat it up, it is going to liquify. This system, which is used in your doctor’s office, heats up the oil glands and then the pulsation presses the previously hardened oils out of the glands.
MiBo Thermoflo works very similarly, but it applies the heat on the outside of the eyelids only and just expresses through the outside of the eyelid.
Intense Pulsed Light therapy, or IPL, uses certain wavelengths of light to change the blood vessels and change the skin around your meibomian glands. The heat that it causes can liquify the oil as well. IPL can also decrease inflammation because it shrinks the blood vessels around your eyelids.
So there you have it! We’re always striving to keep you up to date on the latest technology, so don’t hesitate to let us know if there’s something you want to learn more about.
Dr. Travis Zigler