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(tarsal glands), modified sebaceous glands in the tissue of the eyelids in man and most mammals (except monotremes and aquatic species); named for the German anatomist H. Meibom (1638–1700).
Each meibomian gland consists of numerous alveoli that discharge a secretion into a common efferent duct that opens onto the edge of the eyelid at the base of the eyelashes. The secretion is fatty and serves to coat the eyelids, protecting their edges from wetting by tears; it also contains bactericidal substances. There are 30–40 of the glands in the human upper lid and 20–30 in the lower.