Epidemiology of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction in an Elderly Population

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To study the epidemiology of meibomian gland (MG) dysfunction in an elderly, predominantly male population.


Prospective study of 233 subjects seen in the Miami Veterans Affairs eye clinic. Patients underwent a complete ocular surface examination, including dry eye questionnaires and tear assessments (osmolarity, tear breakup time, corneal staining, Schirmer test). The main outcome measures were correlations between MG parameters and demographics, dry eye symptoms, and tear parameters. The studied MG parameters were eyelid vascularity and meibum quality; a score ≥2 for either parameter was considered abnormal.


Mean age of the 233 subjects was 63 years (SD = 11); 91% were male and 59% had at least 1 abnormal MG parameter (abnormal quality 55%; vascularity 17%). Demographically, patients with abnormal MG parameters were significantly older than their counterparts without these findings. Whites were more likely to have abnormal eyelid vascularity compared with blacks [n = 36 (31%) vs. n = 1 (1%), P < 0.0005] but no differences were noted between races with respect to meibum quality. Abnormal meibum quality, but not abnormal vascularity, was significantly associated with more severe dry eye symptoms. Similarly, abnormal meibum quality, but not eyelid vascularity, was significantly associated with worse dry eye signs, including decreased tear breakup time and increased corneal staining (P < 0.05 for all).


MG dysfunction is a frequent finding in an elderly, predominantly male population with racial differences noted in the frequency of abnormal eyelid vascularity but not in MG quality. Abnormal meibum quality was significantly associated with more severe dry eye symptoms and signs.

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