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Tomo Suzuki; Inflamed Obstructive Meibomian Gland Dysfunction Causes Ocular Surface Inflammation. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018;59(14):DES94-DES101. https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.17-23345.
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Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is one of the primary causes of evaporative dry eye. Stagnation of meibum induces an unstable tear film, thus resulting in shortened tear film breakup time and superficial punctate keratopathy (SPK) in the lower cornea and punctate staining of lower bulbar conjunctiva. MGD is sometimes accompanied with inflammation (termed “meibomitis”) via the proliferation of bacteria in the meibomian gland and eyelash area. Meibomitis is strongly related to ocular surface inflammation such as corneal cellular infiltrates and neovascularization, SPK, and conjunctivitis. It is difficult to differentiate SPK caused by dry eye from that caused by meibomitis. When clinicians are unaware of the existence of meibomitis, and only aware of SPK on the cornea, they often try to treat SPK as it is caused by dry eye using dry eye–specific eyedrops or even using punctual plugs when conservative therapy is ineffective. However, even when intensive dry eye therapy is applied, it may be unsuccessful until SPK caused by meibomitis is recognized and treated with systemic antimicrobial agents. Hence, the tear secreting glands, including the meibomian glands, and the ocular surface should be clinically considered as one unit (i.e., the meibomian gland and ocular surface [MOS]) when considering the pathophysiology and treatment of ocular surface inflammatory diseases (i.e., corneal epithelial damage). Following this clinical pathway, a treatment focusing on meibomian gland inflammation may be a more reasonable approach for meibomitis-related or associated keratoconjunctivitis to more effectively treat this ocular surface disease.
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