The glands in the eye

Updated March 23, 2017

When looking in a mirror, what you are able to see of your eyes is only a small part of what makes it unique. The human eye is made up of many small parts that work in a cohesive manner so that you can see clearly. The glands within the eye are essential for your vision; malfunctioning eye glands can cause problems such as dry eyes, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Meibomian or Tarsal Glands

The tissue that gives support and form to the eyelids is called the tarsal plate. Within the tarsal plate are 30 to 40 glands called the meibomian glands, which are also known as the tarsal glands. These glands are a form of sebaceous glands that secrete an oil substance or lipids that prevents the eyelids from sticking together and helps the tear film to spread quickly over the surface of the eyes after each blink. According to the Eyecare Educators, abnormalities in these glands can contribute to dry eye syndrome if not enough lipids are secreted to prevent tear evaporation. In addition, when these glands become blocked, the backed-up secretions can cause an inflamed enlargement called a chalazion. This condition can be treated at home using warm compresses, antibiotic ointment or drops from your doctor, but in severe cases, surgical drainage may be indicated. If left untreated, the chalazion may become infected and turn into a hard, pimple-like structure called a hordeolum.

Lacrimal Glands

The lacrimal glands are a part of the lacrimal apparatus, which supplies and drains lacrimal fluid to and from the eyes. The gland itself is located in the superior orbit and is approximately the size of a walnut. It secretes one millimetre lacrimal fluid each day, which then drains from the eyes through small ducts into the nasal cavity. Lacrimal fluid is a watery solution that is made up of salts, mucus and lysozyme, which is a bacterial enzyme. The purpose of this fluid is to lubricate and cleanse the eyeball. This substance is what overflows in the eyes during crying, when it is referred to as tears.

Glands of Zeis and Moll

Also known as the sebaceous ciliary glands, the glands of Zeis are located at the base of the eyelash follicles. The lubrication that is secreted from these glands helps to keep the follicles of eyelashes lubricated. If these glands become blocked they can result in the formation of a sty. Within the same area of the eyelid are sweat glands called the glands of Moll. Also called the ciliary glands, these glands empty into the adjacent lashes.

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About the Author

Karl Bruce has been a writer since 2009, writing a variety of articles for eHow. He holds a bachelor's degree in computer science from California State University, Chico, and has worked in the tech industry for most of his life.