Meibomian Gland Adenoma

This is a long word for a small lump! Meibomian gland adenoma describes a benign growth along the eyelid of a dog. Both upper and lower lids are lined with tiny little glands all in a row called, you guessed it, Meibomian (pronounced my-BO-me-an) glands. In older dogs, it is quite common for one gland to get a little overexcited and form a growth. While these are technically benign in terms of them not spreading and causing systemic problems, they can be locally irritating!

These glands can grow on the outside of the lid where they are not rubbing the eye, and bothering the owner much more than they bother the dog. However, some grow towards the eye, and are actually inside the lid. Sure, they aren’t going to metastasize, but it acts as a constant irritant for that eye. Imagine feeling like there is something in your eye all the time!

How do you know if your dog is bothered? She won’t act like it, so we can’t go by her actions. Some dogs will rub the eye on occasion, but this is not a reliable indicator. We have to see what the eye itself has to say.

If the eye is constantly irritated, there will be an increased discharge, often clear, from that eye. Sometimes the eye will not be open as wide as the non-affected eye, causing a half-wink type of look. In more severe cases, the eye can actually be red.

The good news – these tumors are simple to remove! No, we cannot take them off with a local anesthestic, like everybody wants. We have to put the dog under general anesthesia, then cut an upside down V (it’s usually an upper lid) into the skin of the lid to remove the mass. Put in a couple absorbable sutures, and we’re done!

Are there other masses that can show up on a dog’s eyelid? Sure! Any tumor of the skin can appear on an eyelid (it’s skin too!). However, the most common, by far, is the Meibomian gland adenoma.