Sticky Eyelid Syndrome

A patient from China came in today complaining of stringy mucus coming from her eyelids. She has no pain, itching, redness. Though she does not have her eyelids sticking together, I suspect her underlying problem is similar to patients with Sticky Eyelid Syndrome which is a basic problem with the meibomian glands.

The clinical characteristics and new classification of sticky eyelid syndrome in East Asian patients


  • M.C., H.L., M.P., and S.B. performed conception and design of the study, conduct of study, collection and management of data, data analysis, data interpretation, preparation, review and approval of the manuscript. The authors indicate no financial support or financial conflict of interest.



The aim of this study was to demonstrate the characteristics of sticky eyelid syndrome (SES) and to suggest a modified definition and new classification of the disease in relation to the severity of the syndrome in East Asian patients.


Forty-four eyes of 31 patients with sticky eyelid syndrome were included in this study. The medical records of patients who were diagnosed with sticky eyelid syndrome were retrospectively reviewed. Sticky eyelid syndrome was defined as an abnormal adhesion between the upper and lower eyelids during blinking. We divided the subjects into four grades according to the severity of the disease.


Among 31 patients, there were 10 men and 21 women. The mean age of patients was 62.5 years. A total of 13 patients had SES bilaterally. All patients had meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). Thirty-three eyes had dermatochalasis, and 30 eyes had involutional ptosis. Horizontal lower lid laxity was observed in 23 eyes, and reverse ptosis found in 15 eyes. Patients were classified into four groups as follows: G1: 11 (25%), G2: 24 (54.5%), G3: 6 (13.6%) and G4: 3 eyes (6.8%). Patients in Grade 1 tended to improve only with medical treatment for MGD. However, surgical management was necessary for patients in Grades 3 and 4.


Meibomian gland dysfunction is a fundamental risk factor for developing sticky eyelid syndrome. Further, combined upper lid ptosis or lower lid laxity may be aggravating factors. According to the grading, medical or surgical management can be chosen.
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