Eye & contact lens

A comparison of tear volume (by tear meniscus height and phenol red thread test) and tear fluid osmolality measures in non-lens wearers and in contact lens wearers.

PMID 15499232


Various measures are available to assess the tear film, yet little specific information is available on how they relate to each other. An exploratory study was undertaken to assess three measures and their relationship in non-contact lens wearers and in contact lens wearers. Forty-three young subjects (mean age, 25.0 +/- 3.1 years; 19 men and 24 women) without overt ocular disease were recruited and categorized into four similarly sized groups based on contact lens wear (no lens wear, conventional daily wear hydrogels, silicone hydrogel lenses worn on a continuous basis, and gas-permeable contact lenses). Sets of measures, in random order and from both eyes whenever possible, were made using a phenol red thread (PRT) test over 15 seconds (open eye), biomicroscopy to assess tear meniscus height (TMH) from a perpendicular perspective using a 0.05-mm resolution graticule, and a borosilicate glass micropipette used to collect a 5-microL sample of tears for assessment of osmolality by vapor pressure measures. For the complete group of subjects, the TMH data averaged 0.22 +/- 0.07 mm; the average PRT wetting length was 18.0 +/- 6.1 mm; and the tear osmolality averaged 317 +/- 28 mOsm/kg. The intereye differences averaged 0.04 mm for TMH, 3.7 mm for PRT, and 15 mOsm/kg for tear osmolality. There were no detectable sex-related differences in the measures. Compared with the control group (average, 0.25 mm), the TMH data showed a trend to be lower in daily hydrogel (0.21 mm) and silicone hydrogel (0.20 mm) lens wearers, but not in gas-permeable lens wearers (0.24 mm). PRT data was bimodally distributed, with the control group showing slightly higher (average, 21.1 mm) wetting compared with hydrogel lens wearers (16.7 and 17.4 mm) and gas-permeable lens wearers (average, 17.3 mm). Hydrogel (319 mOsm/kg for both groups) and gas-permeable lens wearers (average, 324 mOsm/kg) had higher tear osmolality measures compared with the control group (average, 305 mOsm/kg). Although some of the differences approached statistical significance, any statistical differences were evident only after outliers were removed. However, on pooling all data, there was a statistically significant positive correlation between TMH and open-eye PRT measures (P < 0.001) and an indication of a negative correlation between open-eye PRT and tear osmolality measures. Even contemporary contact lens wear can have a small but measurable impact on the precorneal tear film osmolality or volume. The changes are internally consistent and, overall, support the idea that the PRT test provides a useful measure of tear meniscus volume.