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BioMed Research International
Volume 2016, Article ID 7432131, 8 pages
Review Article

In Vivo Laser Scanning Confocal Microscopy of Human Meibomian Glands in Aging and Ocular Surface Diseases

1Ophthalmology Clinic, Department of Medicine and Aging Science, “G. d’Annunzio” University of Chieti-Pescara, 66100 Chieti, Italy
2Ophthalmology Unit, Department of Neurological, Neuropsychological, Morphological and Movement Sciences, University of Verona, 37126 Verona, Italy
3Ophthalmic Clinic, Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences, University of L’Aquila, 67100 L’Aquila, Italy

Received 13 November 2015; Revised 8 February 2016; Accepted 17 February 2016

Academic Editor: Dipika V. Patel

Copyright © 2016 Vincenzo Fasanella et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Meibomian glands (MGs) play a crucial role in the ocular surface homeostasis by providing lipids to the superficial tear film. Their dysfunction destabilizes the tear film leading to a progressive loss of the ocular surface equilibrium and increasing the risk for dry eye. In fact, nowadays, the meibomian gland dysfunction is one of the leading causes of dry eye. Over the past decades, MGs have been mainly studied by using meibography, which, however, cannot image the glandular structure at a cellular level. The diffusion of the in vivo laser scanning confocal microscopy (LSCM) provided a new approach for the structural assessment of MGs permitting a major step in the noninvasive evaluation of these structures. LSCM is capable of showing MGs modifications during aging and in the most diffuse ocular surface diseases such as dry eye, allergy, and autoimmune conditions and in the drug-induced ocular surface disease. On the other hand, LSCM may help clinicians in monitoring the tissue response to therapy. In this review, we summarized the current knowledge about the role of in vivo LSCM in the assessment of MGs during aging and in the most diffuse ocular surface diseases.