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My Eye Health – Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

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Do you ever have those moments in life where you are to the point to where you think that you just can’t handle one more thing… especially when it comes to your health?

For several years, I have been battling some pretty serious health issues. Each one was pulling and tugging for my attention. I don’t talk about them much, partly because I just don’t have the energy to do so and shoot, there are far better things for me to share… like my kitchen creations.

Today, I decided that I wanted to share something with you and that is eye health. And how it is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted or ignored even when “small” issues arise.

Over a year ago, I started to notice some white dots forming inside my eyelids. It’s amazing all the things you inspect when you have an x10 magnifying mirror in front of you. :) I was like, ooooh, what are those?! But I soon put them out my mind, and since I couldn’t see them when I passed by a mirror, I sort of forgot about them.

Not too long after these bumps appeared, I started to experience a bad case of dry eyes. I finally went to the eye doctor and was instructed to do warm eye compresses and take Omega-3 capsules. I did, but it never really helped. During this same time, I was dealing with some other health issues that took priority, so I just dealt with the dry eyes.

During the day they either burned, watered, itched, ached, were bloodshot or had a glassy feeling which blurred my vision. It was a crapshoot what they were going to do from day to day. The night-time was the worst. I would fall asleep with a warm eye compress on them but would be woken up anywhere from two to five times throughout the night with eye pain. I am guessing that the rapid eye movement that we all experience while sleeping caused my eyes to feel like they were being sand papered. Mr. Sandman wasn’t bringing me a dream. Instead, it was a painful nightmare. (this song always haunts me once I say the word, Sandman. I couldn’t resist sharing… that way it will be stuck not only in my head but yours too. :)

They hurt to keep closed; they hurt to be open.  Needless to say, this leaves me sleep deprived almost every night. This has gone on for almost a year and still does to this day. Finally, I had enough. I made an eye appointment. I skipped seeing my Optometrist and went to an Ophthalmologist.  After a short exam, I was told I had chronic dry eye and was given a prescription for three different eye drops. When I asked what caused it, he nonchalantly said, “Being a woman and age, see you in six weeks.” And out the door, he went. And this is our health care system? Sigh.

The prescribed drops combined together cost $1,825!!! My insurance covered a good chunk of it but I was still left holding a bill for over $400 and three tiny dropper bottles and three more small boxes of other “special drops,” needless to say, I was sick to my stomach. My days were filled with a schedule of administering eye drops spaced out from morning till night. I did them faithfully for six weeks and then returned to the Ophthalmologist who had no good news to report. Nothing worked, nothing helped.  Bob threw out an idea of seeing another specialist who did a procedure called Lipiflow, but he said to continue the eye drops he gave me and check back later. I later found out that the prescribed eye drops didn’t work because he misdiagnosed my eyes. Argh.

Bless Bob’s heart… he went to battle for me. We knew it was going to take further investigating to figure out what was really going on. Bob found a Lipiflow specialist in Portland. He read, researched, and made many phone calls. Me… I temporarily “checked out.” I was was just tuckered out mentally. I just couldn’t handle another doctor, another procedure…so I sat back and let Bob help me with this one. Thank God for those who hold us up when we can’t muster up the strength to do it ourselves.

Sorry if the following photo is too graphic, but it’s time you met your meibomian glands.

This is getting quite lengthy and I value your time, so I will try to reduce my three-hour eye appointment to just a few more paragraphs. :)

The appointment started with a high contrast digital corneal lipid layer analysis (LipiView®). The photo to the right is  NOT of my eyes. But I have photos of what my glands look like and they don’t look anything like the left eye which is healthy. With this test, followed by a few others, I was diagnosed with Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, which is irreversible (gulp, nobody wants to ever hear those words). I have lost over 60% of my Meibomian glands. We have about 25 to 40 meibomian glands in the upper eyelids and 20 to 30 in the lower eyelids. I only have 5-10 healthy ones in my lower lids.  What Bob and I can’t understand is why this simple test isn’t done as part of a standard eye exam! Had this been done when I first complained…. (I fall silent to the failings of our health care system)

The function of these glands is to secrete oils onto the surface of the eye. These oils help keep the tears from evaporating too quickly. I provided a link down below to a short video that explains more about why we need healthy meibomian glands. Please watch it.

Symptoms of MGD are:

  • Dryness
  • Burning
  • Itching
  • Stickiness/ Crustiness
  • Watering
  • Light Sensitivity
  • Red Eyes
  • Foreign Body Sensation
  • Chalazion/Styes
  • Intermittent Blurry Vision

What causes it?

Genetics play a role, age increases the chances, and so does computer work (Healthy people blink 10 to 15 times per minute. While working at on a computer, we blink up to a 60% less), eye makeup, and other things are contributing causes. WOMEN… please take to heart….  Eyeliner and mascara can clog the openings of meibomian glands.  Never wear eyeliner on the inner lower or upper eye lid, wash your eyes thoroughly every night before bed and if possible, stop wearing eye makeup! I know, I know… another time I want to talk more about this.

My treatment:

In office:

  • High contrast digital corneal lipid layer analysis (LipiView®)
  • Had a green dye squirted in my eyes… can’t remember why.
  • Did some standard visual testings.
  • The doctor did what is called, Meibomian gland probing. He numbed my eyes and used a hand-held instrument to probe and dilate the openings of my meibomian glands near the base of my eyelashes. Basically, it was like a huge needle that he scrapped over and over on the inside of my lower lids. He said it would tickle. There wasn’t any giggling taking place here… it felt like someone was running a sharp needle on the tender skin of your inner eyelid!
  • They numbed my eyes again and did the Lipiflow treatment. This procedure applies sufficient heat to the inner eyelids to melt waxy deposits in the meibomian glands. At the same time, it applies pulsed pressure to the eyelid to open and thoroughly express the contents of the glands. Click here to watch a great 4-minute video… it explains it really well. (click here) It didn’t hurt, but the sensations were startling. I did get sick to my stomach but I think that it was just nerves. Bob held my hand and sang to me through the process. What a great man.

My homework:

  • Continue taking Omega-3 supplements. Taking them may help decrease the risk of future episodes of meibomian gland dysfunction. It appears these essential fatty acids may help suppress inflammation associated with MGD and decrease the risk of waxy build-up within the meibomian glands.
  • Daily warm compresses. When the eyelids are heated, they will automatically start to produce more oil. This will then get rid of any oil in the glands that has solidified and caused a blockage.
  • Eye lid cleaning two times a day. A lid scrub helps to get rid of debris, bacteria, and oil, while at the same time stimulating oil production. I was given a prescription eye cleaner that I am to use to clean the base of the lid line.
  • Blinking exercises. Four times a day. I am to blink ten times in a row with purpose! Meaning to blink hard, lightly squeezing the eyes upon closing. I catch Bob doing them now. :)
  • Return in four weeks to see if we are maintaining what glands I have left.

Why am I sharing this with you?

I think we can all agree that our eye health is important and nothing to take for granted. I wanted to share my experience with you and encourage you to take your eye health into your own hands by having proper eye exams. Check your local area and see if they do LipiView. (unfortunately not a cheap treatment)  However experienced eye doctors can see the glands without going through the whole process. Catching the blockages and reducing atrophy of these glands can prevent eye issues which are not reversible.  So here is the takeaway…

  1. Have your glands checked on a regular basis.
  2. If you work a lot on a computer, take eye breaks, and focus on blinking more.
  3. For those who wear eye makeup, decrease the amount, keep it away from the base of your eyelashes, don’t put eyeliner on the inside of your lower lid. Wash your eyes thoroughly making sure to remove all makeup before going to bed.
  4. Be aware when you are exposed to air conditioning, fans, heating systems, as they can have a negative influence on the tear film quality.
  5. Never run with sharp objects like scissors…  this doesn’t pertain to gland dysfunction but good advice none the less. :P

Well, I am going to end it here for now. My eyes are burning and glassy from typing. Maybe I will do a warm eye compress and then create a recipe. That sounds like more fun.  Thank you for taking the time in reading all of this. It means a lot to me because I care about you and your eye health. :) Blessings, amie sue

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32 thoughts on “My Eye Health – Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

  1. Regina Smith says:

    Thank you Amie Sue, for sharing this very important information. I suffer from a bit of dry eyes myself,and macular degeneration runs in my family, more reason to keep a watch on the eyes. I will start doing what you are doing with compresses, and Omega 3… I’m sure it can’t hurt, even if I don’t have what you have.
    Gid Bless, and stay strong!
    Sincerely,
    Regina Smith

    • amie-sue says:

      Good evening Regina,

      I am so sorry to hear that you have macular degeneration. I know a few people with that, and I hear about their challenges. Bless your heart.

      And yea, taking Omega’s and doing warm compresses won’t do a person any harm. If nothing else, laying down to put a compress on your eyes causes a person to just slow down and relax a little. Truthfully, it’s hard for me to do. But then, we all learn little lessons in unexpected ways. :)

      Thank you for sharing and your support. Have a great evening, amie sue

  2. Rebecca says:

    My friend had similar issues with her eyes. It ended up being the chemicals in her contacts and the cleaning products. She stopped wearing them and went to glasses and it has helped with the dry eye, redness, itching etc. Not sure if you wear contacts, but it could be contributing to the issue. Best of luck and love your site. Thanks

    • amie-sue says:

      Good evening Rebecca, thanks so much for sharing. I don’t wear contacts so that isn’t the culprit, but the doctor did talk about contact wearers and how they could be a contributor to this. Thankfully I can rule some things out. :) Sweet dreams, amie sue

      • Rebecca says:

        How do I remove myself from everyone’s comments & replies? I did not realize I would get an email for every comment . Thanks

        • amie-sue says:

          Good morning Rebecca,
          You can stop the emails easily. Just go to the bottom of this posting and select “Manage the Subscriptions”… you will have several options to select from. Follow the commands through and all should be good. Let me know if you have any issues. Blessings,amie sue

  3. bruce231 says:

    Hello Amie Sue, First let me say that I Love what you have done with Nouveau Raw in so many ways; the colors the recipes, the pictures, the wording. When I enter your site I feel as though I have entered an artsy cave. It is so awesome it is hard to describe. My wife passed away a year ago but she would have loved your site if nothing else just to browse.
    As for allopathic medicine I am sorry to say was never intended to help us. The doctors are not to blame either, after all we only know what we have been taught. Just know help is on the way and the technology to heal us is coming in the now.
    Much love, Bruce

    • amie-sue says:

      Hello there Bruce,

      So great to hear from you. Thank you for the kind words… I loved when you called Nouveau Raw an artsy cave. hehe That’s awesome. I just love sharing my passion… so happy to hear that it translate through. :)

      I am sorry to hear about your wife passing… now you have yet another angel watching over you.

      I agree with what you are saying about doctors. We, first and foremost have to be our own doctors, to learn our own bodies and how they respond to our surroundings, stress levels, the foods we eat, and so on. How can we truly expect them to know everything we need based on what little information we can give them?

      Thanks so much for sharing Bruce. I hope you have a wonderful rest of the week. amie sue

  4. Marla says:

    God bless you and thank you for sharing your journey. It will help someone! How wonderful you have someone to trade off with in supporting each other.

    • amie-sue says:

      Thank you Marla. One never knows when their experiences might help someone, that is why I shared. :) And yes, I am quite blessed to have Bob as my partner. We compliment one another quite well. :) Blessings, amie sue

  5. ReneSpires says:

    Thank you or sharing that. I had never heard of this but I will now incorporate blinking and taking more computer breaks.

  6. TammySmith1967 says:

    Wow Amie-Sue! Keep on top of that! Thinkin’ ’bout ya – hope it gets better soon.

  7. Amie Sue you have gone through more than your share of challenges over this past year. This one just blows me away. (By the way, that’s an incredibly gorgeous picture of you with your baby blues glowing from the center of that adorably warm blue hat. Love the hair!!!) What a challenge for you my friend! I’m so sorry that you are having to go through this. I will be praying to the Great Physician, Jesus, for your healing, your courage, your strength and your peace of mind. He alone can heal these kinds of things. May He bless you exceeding abundantly above all you could ever ask or think.

    • amie-sue says:

      Hello sweet Nancy…

      Yes, it’s been a doozy of a year, but none the less, I still feel very blessed. I am sure learning a lot through this process, whether I wanted to or not. lol And thank you for the sweet compliment. That was my snow plowing picture from December. hehe I was ready for the arctic weather!

      Thank you for the prayers. You are always so precious. Blessings my friend, amie sue

  8. Barbara says:

    Blessings and thank you for sharing your journey…..my prayers are with you for relief….and gratitude for putting this out there….trust me….you will help many people!!

    Much love,

    Barbara

    • amie-sue says:

      Thank you, Barbara, for the prayers, support, and encouragement. I shared this for that exact reason…to perhaps help another person. I spent a year feeling that my symptoms weren’t a big deal (even though I was suffering) and when I did research on those symptoms I just got the typical answers of dry eye. I have learned a lot. :) Have a blessed day my friend. hugs. amie sue

  9. Red Cirino says:

    Amy, thank you for sharing your story. I hope you will stay healthy and strong through out this ordeal. I’m happy that you have a wonderful husband who truly cares. I wasn’t sure if we were to put anything in the website box. I did anyways. I’m a nutritionist and I hope you will take consideration of better choices for your eye nutrition such as CarotoMax and FlavoMax put out by a company that invented the first vitamin and was the first certified neutral climate company in the US before green was a household name. They far exceed the organic label. I would be willing to send you info and the nutrition if you are interested. I also plan to enroll in your raw food site. I don’t have a dehydrator yet. Thank you for all you do,

    • amie-sue says:

      Good morning Red,

      Such a pleasure to hear from you. I really appreciate all the “insight” (pun intended hehe) I will look those two eye drops up for sure. I would love to it if you were to send me any information that you have. Would it be through email? If so, you can send it to: amiesue@nouveauraw.com.

      And yes I feel mighty blessed having such a caring and supportive husband. It makes all the difference.

      I hope you sign up as a member and look forward in getting to know you more in the future. Blessings, amie sue

    • amie-sue says:

      Do you have an eye cleaner recommendation that is safe and natural Red Cirino?

  10. preeti pawani says:

    Hi amie
    You have no idea how closely I follow you. You inspire me. And more now because of your tremendous strength and ability to fight and with such good humor,everything that has come in your way. Everything is going to be okay. I need you.

    • amie-sue says:

      I am touched by your words this morning Preeti. Thank you. :) We all need that extra support and encouragement… I need you too. :) I know of no other way to fight, then with all the strength, positive thoughts, prayer, and yes… humor. Laughter is very healing and can get us through the toughest of times. Thank you for sharing, please keep in touch. Blessings, amie sue

  11. Regina Smith says:

    Hi Amie Sue,
    I realized after I read your comment back to me that I wasn’t clear about the macular degeneration.It’s in my family, I don’t have it, but my dad does,so I understand the struggles with eye problems. I still think I will do the warm compresses anyway, as well as the Omega threes, because what harm c0uld come of it?
    Still I will be praying for you…

    • amie-sue says:

      Oh, sorry, my misunderstanding. Well, I am thankful to know that you don’t have it. You are in the perfect position to keep your eye health into your hands and to be proactive. There are a lot of different things that we can do for our eyes; watch the foods we eat, keep inflammation down, get plenty of healing rest, stay hydrated, monitor the amount of time on electronics, be mindful of makeup (if you wear it), and so forth. And next time you have an eye appointment, ask the doctor to check those glands for you! Have a wonderful day, blessings, amie sue

  12. shezina says:

    Hi Amie Sue, So sorry to hear this has happened to you. You have given so much of yourself and helped others so I would like to officer some to you.

    I’ve practised as a homeopath for over 30 years and I am sure there can be some help for you from connecting up with a good homeopathic practitioner. You need someone who understands all your whole conditions. I sense that you are very sensitive and so need to have a careful therapist, who works with your energy. Preferably to begin with only low dose remedies as its very physical and you don’t need any more aggravations. If you need you can contact me Amie Sue and I will be happy to offer you some free advice, just as you were so kind in offering all of us your free reciepes. You already have my email address. Wishing you well, Shezina.

    • amie-sue says:

      Good morning Shezina,

      What a pleasure to hear from you. I really appreciate your support and help. I decided to share this topic with all those who follow Nouveau Raw in hopes of helping others, even if it’s just one person. I am always open to learning so I will send you an email because I value what you have to share. You pretty much nailed me right on the head. :) Thank you so much for reaching out to me. I will be in contact with you. love and blessings, amie sue

  13. Jerrod says:

    Very interesting. Thank you for sharing! We are all interested in our health so little tidbits of things to help us get educated are wonderful.

    • amie-sue says:

      Good morning Jerrod,

      I wanted to share my experience with you all, in hopes of helping others. Sometimes we can feel all alone and I never want that for anyone. I/we are here to support, encourage, and help one another. :) Thank you commenting. Have a blessed and happy day, amie sue

  14. Lyn says:

    Hi Amie Sue, I just read this (still playing catch up after the wedding)!! Oh man I am truly sorry that this is happening to you !!! You are always thinking of helping others, thank you for sharing this with us!! I will add this to my prayers for you, so sorry once again that you are going through this.
    Give that Bob a big hug for us, for being one of the best husbands and for demonstrating the care ,protection , and love that a husband should for his wife. Hugs and love, Lyn :]

    • amie-sue says:

      Good morning sweet Lyn.

      I have been awake since 3 am and you popped in my mind so I am so happy to hear from you. I waiting patiently for the excitement of the wedding to simmer down before I emailed you. I can’t wait to see pictures. (wink, wink) hehe

      Thank you for the prayers. It’s all good, well…. even though it’s unfortunate to go through it, I am learning a lot and still have so many blessings to be thankful for. :)

      I will give Bob that hug. My pleasure! haha I am so blessed to have him at my side. Do love that man.

      Send me an email when things wind down and you have the energy. love and hugs! amie sue

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