American Academy of Optometry

American Academy of Optometry

October 25, 2019
1 min read

Meibomian gland atrophy found in digital device users

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Jonathan Andrews

ORLANDO, Fla. – Subjects who used digital devices more than 2 hours a day were found to have meibomian gland atrophy as well as increased symptoms of dry eye disease, according to a poster presented here at the American Academy of Optometry meeting.

Jonathan Andrews, OD, and colleagues at five sites evaluated 26 study subjects and 38 control subjects (average age 53 years), according to the study. The controls used digital devices less than 2 hours per day.

Andrews told Primary Care Optometry News in an interview that the researchers used Old Order Amish, who have little to no exposure to digital devices, as the control group and were “able to achieve a statistically significant correlation between hours spent on digital media and meibomian gland atrophy while negatively impacting gland secretion quality.”

Results showed that subjects using digital devices (computers, tablets or cell phones) more than 2 hours a day showed meibomian gland atrophy compared to the control group, Andrews said.

“Furthermore, patients using digital media greater than 2 hours per day were significantly more symptomatic for dry eye disease on validated dry eye symptom questionnaires, Standardized Patient Evaluation of Eye Dryness and the University of North Carolina Dry Eye Management Scale, as compared to individuals on digital media 2 hours or less.”

Patients seen in routine eye care practices commonly use digital devices more than 2 hours a day, Andrews said, and it is well documented that blink rate reduces with near work and digital media.

“Asking about digital device use on intake questionnaires can be an important first step in identifying risk factors for meibomian gland dysfunction and may allow the clinician to treat the patient before they become symptomatic,” he said. – by Nancy Hemphill, ELS, FAAO


Andrews J, et al. The impact of digital devices on meibomian gland structure and function. Presented at: American Academy of Optometry meeting; Orlando, Fla.; Oct. 23-27, 2019.

Disclosure: Andrews reports no relevant financial disclosures.