University of Iowa Health Care

Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

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EyeRounds Online Atlas of Ophthalmology

Meibomian Gland Disease

Often invisible under the palpebral conjunctiva, the meibomian glands make the oil layer of the tear film. In meibomian gland disease, the glands often widen in response to stress and then begin to atrophy.


Figure 1. Classic appearance of inlammed lid margin with insipated meibomian gland orifice.

Figure 1 contributed by Jordan M. Graff, MD and Ryen D. Fons, MS3

February 8, 2008

When the lid is pulled toward the examiner, the raised and inflammed area surrounding the gland can be better appreciated.

Meibomian Gland Disease
Meibomian Gland Disease
(higher resolution images of figure 1, not available)

With mild pressure on the lid margin, thick purulent material is expressed from the orifice.


Figures 2 through 4. Contributor & Photographer: Tressa Larson OD FAAO

May 13, 2016

Figure 2. Meibomian Gland Disease

In meibomian gland disease, the glands often widen in response to stress and then begin to atrophy. Infrared images such the ones in figure 2 allow better visualization of the meibomian glands than the white light view. The right is the original image and the left is an enhanced version. This patient has severe meibomian gland disease. The glands nasal and temporal have dropped out entirely and the remaining glands are very short and tortuous.

This patient has severe meibomian gland disease. The glands nasal and temporal have dropped out entirely and the remaining glands are very short and tortuous
This patient has severe meibomian gland disease. The glands nasal and temporal have dropped out entirely and the remaining glands are very short and tortuous


Figure 3. Blunted Meibomian gland on the lower lid

In these images it is possible to see the blunted meibomian glands on the lower lid and to see that they only extend about a quarter or halfway up the tarsal plate.

In these images it is possible to see the blunted meibomian glands on the lower lid and to see that they only extend about a quarter or halfway up the tarsal plate.

In these images it is possible to see the blunted meibomian glands on the lower lid and to see that they only extend about a quarter or halfway up the tarsal plate.



Figure 4. Complete atrophy of Meibomian glands

This patient had such severe meibomian gland disease that the glands are completely atrophied. You can see where the glands used to be.

the glands are completely atrophied. You can see where the glands used to be.


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Ophthalmic Atlas Images by EyeRounds.org, The University of Iowa are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

last updated: 02/08/2008; updated 5/16/2016