Approximately 34 million people in the United States have diabetes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of people with this disease accounts for over 10% of the country’s population. Individuals with diabetes are apt to suffer from a variety of associated medical conditions as a result of the disease, including chronic dry eye. A recent research study examines an apparent connection between diabetes and chronic dry eye.

The Function of Meibomian Glands and Their Role in Dry Eye

Before digging deeper into the connection between diabetes and dry eye, we need to briefly discuss a part of the eye known as the Meibomian Glands.

Most people have a general understanding of some of the primary elements of the human eye. With that said, many are unaware of the Meibomian Glands and the role they play in the healthy functioning of the eye.

The Meibomian Glands are located along the rims of the eyelids. A person typically has about 50 of these glands along each upper eyelid and approximately 25 along each lower eyelid.

The Meibomian Glands produce a substance known as meibum. Oily in composition, the meibum coats the eyelid and helps to maintain a tear layer over the eye. Meibum prevents tears from evaporating or literally spilling out onto a person’s face. The workings of the meibum in combination with natural tear production are what keeps the eyes moist and healthy.

Impact of Diabetes on the Meibomian Glands and Dry Eye 

A recent study at the University of California at San Francisco focused on whether or not diabetes had an impact on the Meibomian Glands, causing dry eye in a significant number of people diagnosed with diabetes. The study concluded that diabetes does appear to negatively impact the functioning of the Meibomian Glands, disrupting the flow of meibum over the eye, resulting in dry eye.

The study specifically revealed that individuals with diabetes had an abnormal level of HbA1c or glycated hemoglobin impacting their Meibomian Glands. This issue with hemoglobin levels resulted in an average loss of Meibomian Gland functionality for over 40% is some of the participants in the research study. The net effect was a serious impact on meibum production, which in turn resulted in chronic dry eye.

Diabetes and Routine Eye Exams

A crucial element of the eye care regimen for an individual with diabetes is a routine eye exam with a trusted eye doctor. The heightened odds of a person diagnosed with diabetes to suffer from dry eye underscores the need for proactive eye care, including regular eye exams.

At Matossian Eye Associates, we offer a number of advanced treatments that can help bring relief to patients suffering from dry eye. An eye doctor from Matossian Eye Associates is available to assist you with all your eye care needs, including those associated with diabetes. You can schedule an appointment at any time that is convenient for you by calling (800) 708-8800, or request an appointment online.