Original Research

Loss of function of the meibomian glands among HIV and AIDS individuals undergoing antiretroviral therapy

Solani D. Mathebula, Mologadi D. Ntsoane
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 83, No 1 | a866 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v83i1.866 | © 2024 Solani D. Mathebula, Mologadi D. Ntsoane | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 May 2023 | Published: 11 April 2024

About the author(s)

Solani D. Mathebula, Department of Optometry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Limpopo, Polokwane, South Africa
Mologadi D. Ntsoane, Department of Optometry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Limpopo, Polokwane, South Africa


Background: Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is one of the most encountered diseases in the clinical practice but appears to be underappreciated as it does not cause blindness. Meibomian gland dysfunction is a multifactorial and complex disorder of the ocular surface.

Aim: This study aims to evaluate the characteristics of the meibomian glands in individuals living with HIV and AIDS undergoing antiretroviral therapy.

Setting: The study was conducted at the antiretroviral (ARV) clinic, Mankweng Hospital.

Methods: This was a prospective study conducted with 37 HIV and AIDS participants and 20 healthy controls. All participants were assessed using the Ocular Surface Diseases Index (OSDI) score and, tear break-up time and lid margin regularity (using the slit-lamp biomicroscopy). The loss of the meibomian glands was evaluated using the Marx’s line. For this study, this line represented a clinical parameter of meibomian function.

Results: The OSDI score was significantly higher in the HIV and AIDS group than that of the control participants (39.95 ± 18.65 and 13.00 ± 9.09, respectively, P < 0.05). The tear breakup time (TBUT) for the HIV and AIDS study group was lower than that of the control group (7.95 ± 3.54 and 9.90 ± 3.70, respectively, P < 0.05). The HIV and AIDS participants showed greater meibomian gland loss relative to the healthy controls (9.30 ± 4.97 and 5.70 ± 2.1, P < 0.05).

Conclusion: The loss of eyelid meibomian glands is common in people living with HIV and AIDS in comparison with healthy controls.

Contribution: Although there is a decrease in sight-threatening complications in the era of ARVs, ocular surface disorders (OSD) are still commonly found, which may reduce the quality of life of HIV and AIDS individuals.


AIDS; dry eye; HIV; meibomian gland; meibomian gland dysfunction; ocular surface; tear film

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being


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