People who suffer from with Graves’ ophthalmopathy (GO) have distinctive meibomian gland features that help explain their higher rate of dry eye disease, researchers recently found.

The study included 21 patients with GO and 24 sex- and age-matched healthy controls. A team measured tear break-up time, Schirmer’s scores and corneal fluorescein staining and conducted in vivo confocal microscopy.

The researchers found a significantly lower acinar unit density in patients with GO compared with controls (24.5U/mm2 vs. 34.2U/mm2) and significantly higher values of total lumen area (3104.7μm2 vs. 1393.8μm2). The latter finding showed a significant inverse correlation with Schirmer test scores. Aberrations in acinar diameter were also more common in GO patients, who are more likely to experience gland obstruction as well, the report says.

Other complications also hinder successful meibomian gland function in Graves’ patients. “The incomplete blinking secondary to lid fissure widening and proptosis might decrease the excretion rate of the meibum,” the authors noted in their paper.

Vagge A, Bernabei F, Del Noce C, et al. In vivo confocal microscopy morphometric analysis of meibomian glands in patients with graves ophthalmopathy. Cornea. June 30, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].