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Light transmission/absorption characteristics of the meibomian gland.



While meibography has proven useful in identifying structural changes in the meibomian gland (MG), little is known regarding the MG spectral transmission and absorption characteristics. The purpose of this study was to measure the transmission/absorption spectra of the MG compared to other eyelid tissues.


Human and rabbit eyelids were fixed in paraformaldehyde, serial sectioned (50 μm) using a cryotome and imaged by brightfield and reflectance microscopy. Eyelid regions (MG, muscle, tarsus and dermis) were then illuminated by a 100 μm spot using a infrared enhanced white light source. Transmission spectra over a 550-950 nm range were then measured using a spectrometer and differences compared using two-way analysis of variance.


Brightfield microscopy of both human and rabbit eyelid tissue showed a marked decrease in light transmission for MG acini compared to other eyelid tissues. In rabbit, the dermis showed 5× and the muscle showed 2× more light transmission compared to MG (P < .001 and P < .001, respectively). For human, the muscle showed 14× and the tarsus showed 84× more light transmission compared to MG (P < .01 and P < .001, respectively). No specific spectral region of light absorption could be detected in either rabbit or human MG. Loss of light transmission in MG was localized to acini containing small lipid droplets, averaging 2.7 ± 0.8 μm in diameter.


The data suggest that light transmission is dramatically reduced in the acini due to light scattering by small lipid droplets, suggesting that Meibography detects active lipid synthesis in differentiating meibocytes.

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