Meibominitis & Dry Eye

Meibomianitis is an inflammation of the oil glands or meibomian glands along your upper and lower eyelid margins. These oil glands produce the lipid or fat layer of your tear film, which coats the surface of your eye. The purpose of this lipid layer is to help prevent the water layer below from evaporating. When these meibomian glands or oil glands become inflamed, they no longer produce nice smooth clean oil. The oil can come out bubbly or thick, thus improperly coating the front of the eye.

Meibomianitis typically does not cause serious visual problems, but it can cause numerous comfort and cosmetic issues. Meibomianitis can cause your eyes to dry out, burn, itch, and water. All of which can lead to reduced vision, blurred vision, vision that fluctuates or vision that clears up with strong blinks. Meibomianitis can also cause your eyelids to swell or thicken and turn red, which can eventually lead to madarosis (eyelashes falling out). It can also lead to external hordeolums more commonly known as styes, which are simply clogged oil glands that have become inflamed.


The treatment for meibomianitis is fairly straight forward, and we encourage all of our patients to perform this treatment on a daily basis, regardless of whether or not they have meibomianitis.


  • Prior to getting in the shower in the morning, take a washcloth and heat it up under the tap with warmwater. Close your eyes, and lightly hold the warm washcloth over your eyes. Hold the cloth there until it cools off. Repeat this process for approximately 2 minutes.
  • Than, lightly rub your eyelids with the wash cloth to force out all the old oil
  • If you eyelids are really swollen than in the shower, take your washcloth and apply a small amount of baby shampoo to it (baby shampoo is used so that you eyes won’t burn, if they actually come in contact with the soap). Foam it up. Than lightly scrub you eyelid margins to remove any oil build up. Ensure that you thoroughly rinse away any soap residue.

Occasionally meibomianitis can get very bad, and medical therapy may be required. If this is the case, your optometrist or ophthalmologist may provide you with a topical antibiotic ointment. In some situations, oral antibiotics may also be used. 

To learn more about meibomianitis or to find out if meibomianitis is the cause of your vision problems, please contact one of our eye doctors and book and eye exam.