Meibomianitis

Definition
Meibomianitis is an inflammation of the meibomian glands, a group of oil-secreting (sebaceous) glands in the eyelids. The meibomian glands are located within the structure of the lids and have tiny openings to release their secretions on the edges of the lids.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Any condition that increases the thickness of the oily secretions of the meibomian glands will allow excess oils to accumulate on the edges of the lids. This allows bacteria, which are normally present on the skin, to grow.

Excess and thickened oily secretions can be caused by allergy, adolescence, or general skin conditions such as rosacea. Meibomianitis is often associated with blepharitis, which can cause an accumulation of dandruff-like substance on the eyelids.

Symptoms

     
  • Swelling of eyelid margins  
  • Slight blurring of vision due to excess oil in tears - cleared by blinking  
  • Frequent styes

Signs and tests

Meibomianitis can be diagnosed by eye examination. Special tests are not required.

Treatment

Careful cleansing of the edges of the lids will usually minimize symptoms. Your health care provider may prescribe an antibiotic ointment to be applied to the lid edge.

Any general skin condition such as Acne or rosacea may also require treatment.

Expectations (prognosis)

Meibomianitis is not a vision-threatening condition. Most patients do well with treatment.

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if treatment does not lead to improvement or if styes develop.

Prevention

Attention to lid hygiene will help prevent meibomianitis. Certain foods such as chocolate may aggravate the condition. Treatment of associated general skin conditions will help prevent meibomianitis.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 3, 2012
by Martin A. Harms, M.D.

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