Meibomitis: what it is, symptoms, causes and treatment

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Meibomitis is the inflammation of the Meibomian glands or meibomian glands, located in the upper and lower eyelids of the eyes, responsible for producing meibum, a type of oil that lubricates the eyes and prevents tears from evaporating quickly.

In meibomitis, there is a dysregulation in the production of oil by the meibomian glands, making the oil thicker, which causes it to be retained inside the gland, leading to its inflammation and the appearance of symptoms such as redness, swelling of the eyelids or a tear that appears foamy In addition, this inflammation can increase the risk of bacteria developing at the site and causing infection.

In the presence of signs and symptoms of meibomitis, it is important to consult the ophthalmologist, who can indicate the most appropriate treatment, which usually involves the use of eye drops to clean the eyes and, in cases where there are signs of infection, the use of antibiotic eye drops.

Meibomitis symptoms

Meibomitis symptoms can be mild to moderate and affect the upper and/or lower eyelids and include:

  • eyelid swelling;
  • Redness of the eyelids or eye;
  • eye irritation;
  • Pain or tenderness;
  • Blurred vision;
  • Itch;
  • Burning sensation in the eye;
  • Crying sensation in the eye;
  • Frothy-looking tear.

In addition, the eyelids may stick together or, in cases of infection of the glands, a small red lump may appear on the eyelid, painful and with a yellowish spot in the center, similar to a pimple, popularly called a sty.

In some cases, there may also be a swelling inside the eyelid that does not cause pain, called a meibomian cyst or chalazion. Understand better what a chalazion is and how it is treated.

What is the difference between meibomitis and blepharitis?

Both meibomitis and blepharitis are inflammations that occur in the Meibomian glands in the eyelids, but the cause of the inflammation is different. In meibomitis, there is a deregulation in the production of oil by the Meibomian glands, leading to their inflammation and the appearance of symptoms.

Blepharitis, on the other hand, occurs due to an obstruction of the glands, making it difficult for the oil to come out, which accumulates in the eyelid, resulting in symptoms such as constant tearing of the eyes or the presence of crusts and peeling on the eyelids. Check out other symptoms of blepharitis.

How to confirm the diagnosis

The diagnosis of meibomitis is made by the ophthalmologist by evaluating the symptoms and examining the eyes and eyelids. In addition, the doctor can analyze the inflammation of the Meibomian glands in ophthalmic devices, such as the slit lamp, which has a microscope and a high-intensity light to check for abnormalities in the glands.

Other tests that can be done by the doctor are applying light pressure to the eyelids to check for the oil output by the meibomian glands, and in case of suspicion of infection, the doctor can take a sample of the fluid from the eyes to analyze in the laboratory the presence of bacteria. .

Possible causes

The exact cause of Meibomitis is not known, however, it may be associated with inflammation or infection of the Meibomian glands, and some factors may contribute to its appearance, such as:

  • Use of contact lenses;
  • Exposure to environments with low air humidity or use of air conditioning;
  • Hormonal changes;
  • Rosacea;
  • Use of medication, such as retinoic acid;
  • Use of eye drops to treat glaucoma;
  • Excessive computer use.

In addition, the body’s natural aging can cause the Meibomian glands to produce less oil, leading to Meibomitis.

Other causes that may be related to the appearance of meibomitis are smoking, diabetes, hormone replacement therapy during menopause or low consumption of foods rich in omega 3, such as salmon or flaxseed, for example.

How is the treatment done?

The treatment of meibomitis should be done with the guidance of the ophthalmologist, according to the severity of the symptoms, and may be indicated by the doctor:

  • Applying warm compresses to the eyelidsfor 1 to 2 minutes, twice a day;
  • Affected eyelid massagewith physician-oriented techniques;
  • wash the eyelid with the foam formed with neutral children’s shampoo and water;
  • Use of lubricating eye drops or artificial tearespecially if the meibomitis was caused by dry eye;
  • Use of corticosteroid ointments or eye dropsto reduce inflammation of the Meibomian glands;
  • Application of antibiotic eye dropsin the case of bacterial infection;
  • Use of oral antibioticssuch as doxycycline or azithromycin, in cases of severe inflammation or infection;
  • Surgery to open the Meibomian glands.

In addition, omega-3 supplements may also be prescribed by your doctor to help relieve the symptoms of meibomitis. Learn how to take omega 3 supplements.

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