We examined 57 patients with symptoms of chronic blepharitis using meibomian gland expression, meibography, tear osmolarity, and the Schirmer's test. We also performed meibography on 20 normal patients free of chronic blepharitis. We found that 42 blepharitis patients (74%) had evidence of meibomian gland loss, whereas only four of 20 normal patients (20%) had any gland dropout. We performed cluster analysis on the data from the patients with blepharitis and found that these patients tended to fall into distinct groups with clinically relevant characteristics. We also found that tear osmolarity correlated positively with gland dropout (+0.413) and negatively with excreta volume (-0.499). This study demonstrates that an objective analysis of meibomian gland function may be used to assess chronic blepharitis and define subsets of blepharitis with measurable differences. It also supports the significance of meibomian gland dysfunction on tear osmolarity and the evaporative state of the eye.
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