Between being chronically sleep-deprived, dehydrated, and screen-baked, our eyes certainly take a beating! It’s no wonder why so many people struggle with them, especially now that temperatures are dropping (at least here in the US). Cases of dry, itchy, and otherwise untenable eyes are on the rise!
All that said, it’s important to point out that a huge component of having healthy eyes includes having healthy tears. Your tear film is a highly complex concoction of water, mucous, and oil. So even if you constantly flood your eyes with eyedrops, you may still suffer from dry eyes and other uncomfortable eye conditions because your oil production is dithering. Our tear film’s oil layer protects us from the air in the atmosphere evaporating tears instantly, which keeps our eyes wet, clear, and irritation-free.
What’s In An Eyelid?
Now for a short anatomy lesson! The structures primarily responsible for creating your eyes’ oil layer are called Meibomian glands. Meibomian glands trail down the eyelids like tiny vertical pipes. If you gently pull up or down on a lid and look closely at your waterlines, you’ll see very small circular pores, or ducts, secreting oil. Those are the openings of your Meibomian glands! One of the most common things that can go wrong with your Meibomian glands— therefore throwing a wrench in oil production and overall eye health— is that these pores can become clogged. The bad news is that if a Meibomian gland remains clogged too long, it’ll die off, and you’ll be one tract short of optimal eye health forever!
Curing Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
So, what can you do? Have you been left to suffer sure ductile doom? Can Meibomian glands be reset?
The answer is yes! There is hope for people with Meibomian gland dysfunction! They can be unclogged, restarted, and given a new lease on life! However, you must leave their resurrection to the specialists! Your ophthalmologist will know how and where to press on your eyelids to manually express meibomian blockages without causing discomfort or damage to your eye. They can also run tests to measure tear oil production and quality and even blast the glands open with heat and light pulsing machines, such as the LipiFlow device.
However, if you’re concerned about Meibomian gland blockage, there are a few things that you can do to care for them without having to take a trip to your doctor’s office. Gently performing eyelid massages, such as the one demonstrated in this video, can work wonders to keep your Meibomian glands clear and functional. In addition, performing regular warm-eye compresses, daily eyelash cleanings, refraining from wearing makeup (especially on the waterlines), using a humidifier in your living spaces, and taking high-quality omega-3 fatty acid supplements can all help keep your Meibomian glands (and therefore, your eyes) clean, open, and operable.
If you would like to read more about the amazing mechanisms at work in the human eye, check out my article on the science behind the color of your sclerae here!
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