We evaluated, dermatologically and ophthalmologically, 26 patients who had chronic blepharitis (meibomitis); we also investigated 26 age- and sex-matched controls. All of the blepharitic patients had an abnormality of sebaceous gland function ranging from seborrhea sicca to seborrheic dermatitis or acne rosacea, suggesting a generalized sebaceous gland dysfunction that included the meibomian glands. Sebaceous gland abnormalities most frequently involved the cool areas of the face or scalp. Stagnation of the meibomian glands presumably caused a defect in the tear lipid layer; this resulted in an unstable tear film that produced superficial punctate keratopathy. The break-up time was much lower in these patients than in controls. The break-up time returned to normal or super-normal levels when fresh meibomian secretions were expressed into the tear film. The superficial punctate keratopathy had the characteristics of those seen in conditions with a known unstable tear film and not of those experimentally produced by staphylococcus toxin.
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