Meibomian Gland Blockage

Small glands are located inside the upper and lower eyelids. These are called meibomian glands. They secrete oils that work with tears. The oils keep the tears from evaporating too quickly and prevent dry eyes.

If your meibomian glands become blocked by thickened oils, the eyes will become dry. Your eyes may feel irritated.

A blocked oil gland is prone to infection, which causes redness and swelling of the lid. This condition is called blepharitis. Blepharitis may take 6 to 12 months to clear up completely. Use the following home treatments to improve your condition.

Home care

  • Apply a warm compress (warm water on a washcloth) to the eyelids for 10 to 20 minutes at least twice a day. This softens the oils in the glands and may relieve the blockage. After this treatment, wipe away scales from the lids and apply any prescribed medicine.

  • Use lubricant eye drops (available without a prescription) if your eyes feel dry or burn.

  • If the lids are swollen or red (inflamed), do not wear eye makeup until the redness and swelling goes away. Use only hypoallergenic makeup in the future.

  • Unless told otherwise, stop wearing contact lenses until your condition improves.

  • Wash your hands regularly, to reduce the chance of dirt and bacteria coming in contact with your eyelid.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of the following occur:

  • Redness of the white part of the eye

  • Redness or swelling of the lids

  • Eye pain or discharge

  • Increased light sensitivity

  • Change in your vision

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

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