eyelids

noun. each of the upper and lower folds of skin which cover the eye when closed

Image by Linh Ha

Your eyelids are responsible for protecting their surface from foreign elements and blinking to prevent our eyes from drying out. Without proper function, your eyelids may have inflammatory disorders including:

● Meibomian Gland Dysfuntion (MGD)

● Allergies   

● Stye/Hordeolum   

● Evaporative Dry Eye   

● Chalazion

 

meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD)

noun. refers to the condition where the glands are not secreting enough oil or when the oil they secrete is of poor quality

Meibomian glands are the tiny oil glands which line the margin of the eyelids (the edges which touch when the eyelids are closed). These glands secrete oil which coats the surface of our eyes and keeps the water component of our tears from evaporating (drying out). Together, the water and the oil layer make up the tear film.

 

The tear film lubricates and keeps the surface of our eyes healthy; it also affects how we see. If either the water or oil layer is decreased, or is of poor quality, we may have symptoms of irritation and/or blurred vision.

Often, the oil gland openings get plugged up so that less oil comes out of the glands. The oil that does make it out of the glands can be granular (crusty) or otherwise unhealthy and can cause irritation.

 

MGD is very common. In the early stages, patients are often asymptomatic, but if left untreated, MGD can cause or exacerbate dry eye symptoms and eyelid inflammation. The oil glands become blocked with thickened secretions. Chronically clogged glands eventually become unable to secrete oil which results in permanent changes in the tear film and dry eyes.

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allergies

noun. an overreaction by the immune system by normally harmless subjects called allergens

Eye allergies, also called allergic conjunctivitis, are quite common. They occur when the eyes react to something that irritates them (called an allergen). The eyes produce a substance called histamine to fight off the allergen. As a result, the eyelids and conjunctiva become red, swollen and itchy. The eyes can tear and burn. Unlike other kinds of conjunctivitis, eye allergies do not spread from person to person.

The most common eye allergy symptoms include:

  • red, swollen or itchy eyes

  • burning or tearing of the eyes

  • sensitivity to light 

stye/hordeolum

noun. an infection of an oil gland at the edge of the eyelid

A hordeolum is usually caused by a bacterial staph infection and results in pain, swelling, and redness.  A hordeolum looks like a pus-filled lump or pimple at the edge of the eyelid. Treatment includes warm compresses and antibiotic eye drops or ointments.  Hordeola can be prevented by keeping the eyelids clean, removing makeup at bedtime, replacing eye makeup every three months, and hand washing before touching the area around the eyes.  Do not attempt to squeeze or drain the stye yourself.  Contact your eye doctor immediately if the redness and swelling extend beyond your eyelid to your cheek or other parts of your face.

 

Some people are more prone to develop a hordeolum, but it is also associated with:

  • Contact lens wear

  • Poor hygiene

  • Using eye makeup that is old or contaminated

  • Blepharitis, an inflammation or infection of the eyelids

  • Systemic conditions such as rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis, or diabetes

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evaporative dry eye

noun. due to a deficient tear film lipid layer, which increases tear evaporation

Evaporative dry eye (EDE) is the most common form of dry eye syndrome. Dry eye syndrome is an uncomfortable condition caused by a lack of quality tears. It’s usually caused by a blockage of the oil glands that line the margins of your eyelids. These tiny glands, called meibomian glands, release oil to cover your eye surface and prevent your tears from drying out.

Tears are a mixture of water, oil, and mucus. They coat the eye, making the surface smooth and protecting the eye from infection. The proper mixture of tears also helps you see clearly. If your meibomian glands become blocked or inflamed, your tears won’t contain the right amount of oil to keep them from evaporating. That can cause EDE.

Symptoms of EDE vary in severity. In general, your eyes will feel uncomfortable. The discomfort can include:

  • grittiness, as though there’s sand in your eyes

  • stinging sensation

  • blurred vision

  • inability to tolerate wearing contact lenses

  • sensitivity to light

  • eye fatigue, especially after working on your computer or reading

Your eyes may also have increased redness or your eyelids may appear swollen.

 

chalazion

noun. a small, swelling red bump on your eyelid

Your eyelid has tiny glands that produce an oily substance to help keep your eyes moist. When one of those glands gets blocked, you can wind up with a chalazion, a swollen, pain-free gland.

Chalazia may develop when something blocks a small oil gland in the eyelid. These glands help keep the eye moist. A blocked gland begins retaining oil and swells. Eventually, the fluid will drain, and you may have a hard lump on your eyelid.

Some additional causes of chalazia are:

  • Rosacea (a skin condition that causes redness and acne)

  • Chronic blepharitis, eyelid inflammation (redness, swelling and irritation)

  • Seborrheic dermatitis (red, dry, flaky and itchy skin)

  • Tuberculosis (TB)

  • Viral infections

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