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Ocul Surf. 2003 Jul;1(3):97-106.

Meibomian gland function and the tear lipid layer.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, Texas 75390, USA.


The meibomian glands of the lid produce a lipid material whose synthesis is dependent on neuronal, hormonal, and vascular factors. This lipid material is fluid, spreads easily, is a surfactant as well as an aqueous barrier and must remain functional after a blink. To satisfy these requirements, the meibomian lipids have a specific composition. Even after delivery it may be modified by lipases produced by ocular bacteria, and modifications in the lipid components can lead to unique disease states. For example, bacteria may degrade lipids, producing an unstable tear film and irritating free fatty acids; and hormonal imbalances may alter lipid profiles to destabilize the tear film and produce evaporative dry eye.


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