Scratchy Eyes and Meibomian Glands

Though I’ve covered this topic before, it is certainly an important one in ophthalmology. Most of the time, a feeling of “scratchy eyes” is caused by an inadequate tear film. The principal reason that one may have an inadequate tear film is due to improper tear film composition. In other words, it is more common to have the “wrong stuff” in a tear film than to just have too few tears.

There are glands that produce oily secretions that are located at the edges of the eyelids. These oily secretions go into the tear film and create better tear film composition. Some of the most important glands in this regard are meibomian glands. Often, meibomian gland secretions are not adequately delivered to the ocular surface. This is the reason that eye doctors frequently suggest warm compresses; the heat, and, to some extent, the pressure improve the delivery of meibomian gland contents to the surface of the eyeball.