A New Diagnosis: Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

I’ve always had poor eyesight, at least as far back as I can remember. However, I never expected to deal with several other chronic eye conditions at a fairly young age. When I went through topical steroid withdrawal and worsening eczema, I, unfortunately, found out I also have corneal scarring, keratoconus, and chronic dry eye. That was a lot to handle, but I didn’t realize there was more to come.

I’ll never forget my second or third visit to get a scleral lens at my doctor's office. She asked if she could take a look at my eyelid glands with special equipment. I had no idea what she was talking about, to be honest, but I trusted her and agreed. After a couple hours of tests and sitting around, I was introduced to yet another diagnosis I’d be labeled with and have to carry for the rest of my life: meibomian gland dysfunction.

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What is meibomian gland dysfunction?

Put simply, meibomian glands are little glands along the edges of the eyelids that secrete moisture to keep our eyes nice and hydrated. 1 As I’m sure you can guess, the dysfunction part of that means there is something wrong with those glands. In my case, I have fewer than half those glands left, and the glands I do have left don't create enough moisture to keep my eyes “normal” and healthy. Thus, the connection to chronic dry eye.

Frankly, I had never even heard of meibomian glands before my diagnosis. Thankfully, my eye doctor is amazing and explained everything to me in an easily digestible way. It sure explained the nearly constant gritty and irritated sensation I felt in my eyes, and helped me find ways to deal with those symptoms on a daily basis.

Finding drug-free treatment options

There are a variety of treatment options for meibomian gland dysfunction and dry eyes. In my case, I’m a bit limited as I am not able to use any steroid or immunosuppressant medications due to other chronic health conditions. So, that complicates things a bit, as those tend to be a big part of treatment.

Instead, my doctor decided we’d use any natural and alternative treatments available. For me, that meant using a Bruder eye mask every day, twice a day, as well as using lubricant eye drops daily, and gels when necessary. I’ve been quite lucky in that sense that, so far, that has been enough for me, though there have been some rough patches here and there. Nonetheless, being diagnosed with another eye condition and having to live with it isn’t easy, to say the least.

Despite that, I’m glad my doctor decided to do the testing and confirm what it was, so we could take the necessary steps and action as quickly as possible before any further damage to my eyes occurred. So, as with anything else, it’s a double-edged sword, and while I’m not happy I have this condition, I’m glad I know about it and am equipped with the proper tools to manage it. Chronic illness, as well as life in general, as I’ve learned, requires a lot of acceptance, and a whole lot of patience.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ChronicDryEye.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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