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Influence of eyelid pigmentation on the diagnosis of meibomian gland dysfunction

Authors Blumberg MJ, Millen AE, Patel SP

Received 9 July 2019

Accepted for publication 1 September 2019

Published 19 September 2019 Volume 2019:13 Pages 1815—1821


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Max J Blumberg,1 Amy E Millen,2 Sangita P Patel1,3

1Department of Ophthalmology, Ross Eye Institute, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA; 2Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Sciences, School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA; 3Research and Ophthalmology Services, Veterans Administration of Western New York Healthcare System, Buffalo, NY, USA

Correspondence: Sangita P Patel
Ross Eye Institute, 1176 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14209, USA
Tel +1 716 862 6577
Fax +1 716 881 4349

Purpose: To determine whether reliance on eyelid margin vascularization as a diagnostic criterion for meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) results in underdiagnosis of MGD in individuals with dark skin pigmentation.
Patients and Methods: This cross-sectional study enrolled consecutive cornea clinic patients in Buffalo, New York. Eyelid margin vascularization was graded qualitatively from slit-lamp photos. Skin pigmentation was quantified from digital photos using red/green/blue (RGB) pixel analysis and dichotomized using the RGB median. MGD was defined as abnormal quantity or quality of meibum or increased pressure required to express meibum. Additional testing included infrared meibography, Schirmer’s testing, and a dry eye questionnaire. Sensitivity of MGD diagnosis by visualization of vascularization, compared to diagnosis by expression of meibum, was estimated with and without stratification by skin pigmentation.
Results: Among 47 participants, 15–79 years old, meibomian gland truncation/dropout, abnormal tear production, and dry eye symptoms affected individuals of all skin pigmentations. Eyelid margin vascularization was less common in subjects with dark (n=21%) compared to light pigmentation (65%; p=0.002), although the prevalence of MGD assessed via clinical evaluation did not vary significantly between those groups. Use of eyelid margin vascularization alone was not sensitive (33%) for MGD diagnosis. The sensitivity was 17% when limited to those with dark pigmentation.
Conclusion: Our findings highlight the importance of gland expression and suggest limiting reliance on eyelid margin vascularization for MGD diagnosis, especially in those with dark eyelid skin pigmentation.

Keywords: meibomian glands, dry eye syndromes, skin pigmentation

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