Dry Eye Disease and Meibomian Gland Dysfunction: Meibomian Expressor Forceps

If you do not want to spend hundreds of dollars a month and installing antibiotic eyedrops (like Restasis™) twice a day, then you may want to consider having your Meibomian glands expressed. Nothing personal, rest assured. The Meibomian glands are located in the upper and lower lids of your eyes, and produce fatty secretions that help keep the surface of the tear film in your eyes from evaporating.

When these glands get blocked or become dysfunctional, then the tear film in your eyes simply evaporates, leaving you with “dry eye syndrome.” Some patients respond exceptionally well to having these glands “squeezed” so that any blockages and/or debris are removed from the tiny canals that channel this protective fluid into your tear film.

Quite a bit of research has been done on dry eye syndrome, and pharmaceutical companies like Allergan have made hundreds of millions of dollars selling eye drops containing powerful antibiotics that help relieve dry eye symptoms in many patients. However, relief from these symptoms with these drugs may take months, and the cost is so high because many insurers either have these products at their highest tiered co-pay, or refuse to pay for them at all. Do you really want to spend all that money, and put even more chemicals into your body?

Eye care professionals (both optometrists and ophthalmologists) treat dry eye syndrome on a daily basis. One method (aside from more money and more drugs) that is becoming increasingly popular is to express the Meibomian glands with an instrument called, strangely enough, Meibomian Gland Expressor Forceps. The paddle shaped tips can be used in the hands of an experienced professional to gently squeeze these glands and help stimulate normal tear film development.

Other measures that help alleviate these symptoms are the use of nutritional supplements that contain omega-e fatty acids, and the use of warm washcloths placed over the eyelids.

There is a really good article on this type of care by optometrists Caroline Blackie and Donald Korb (if you search for their names, they’ll come up for sure).

The prevalence of dry eye increases with age, and is more common in women. 5.7% of women under 50 years old and 9.8% among women aged 75 years old or older have dry eye disease. A few other tidbits that you would probably classify as too much information:

Dry Eye Disease is also called “keratoconjunctivitis sicca,” “keratitis sicca,” and “xerophthalmia.” More drastic measures to treat dry eye include installation of punctal plugs, which are like little corks that are used to clog the eye’s drainage system. Doctors also can perform surgical procedures for more severe cases. Many caregivers recommend over the counter eye drops to also help with treating dry eye. But, as more people learn about the simple procedure of Meibomian gland expression, perhaps these more costly, often more frequent, and sometimes more dangerous options will be less popular.