Have you ever felt like your eyes have sand in them? Is it confusing to be told you have dry eyes, when there are times your eyes overflow with tears? Do your eyes feel more tired than your body? All this can mean you have an unstable tear film, or Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). Bizarrely, it has a lot more to do with a good old fashioned jelly slice.
It has a thin biscuit base, with a thick custard like centre and a thin topping of jelly. And it just doesn’t work if any of the layers are missing. A normal tear film is just like this. It has a thin mucus layer, a thick salt water layer and a thin oil layer. Each layer has a different job. They mucus layer attaches the salt water layer to the front of the eye.
The salt water layer has lots of nutrients to feed the front of the eye. The oil layer evenly spreads out the tears, lubricates when you blink and stops the tears evaporating. There are some health conditions that affect the mucus or salt water layers in the tear film, but most ‘dry eyes’ are actually from a not-so-good oil layer. When the Meibomian glands can’t produce good oil, then the tears dry out in patches (causing the lacrimal gland to try and compensate with lots of salt water and makes it look like you are crying), and your eyes will feel tired and blinking a lot gives some relief, but it doesn’t last.
The Meibomian glands (oil glands) are in the lids and they can get clogged up with medications or with age (and menopause) or systemic conditions such as Thyroid problems, Lupus, or Arthritis. They can also be treated to make the gland produce better oils which gives better quality of life, less tiredness from eyes drying, less irritation and more reliable vision. Some treatments are done at home and don’t cost a cent. Other times a more involved treatment is needed in office and other treatment requires drops (sometimes a honey based one works best). The biggest thing is that you don’t just have to put up with it! Get it checked out at your local optometrist.