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Clin Chim Acta. 2006 Jul 15;369(1):17-28. Epub 2006 Mar 3.

Laboratory findings in tear fluid analysis.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Keio University School of Medicine, 35 Shinanomachi Shinjuku-ku Tokyo 160-8582, Japan.


The tear film, composed of the lipid, aqueous and mucin layers, has many functions including defending the ocular surface. The tear film covering the ocular surface presents a mechanical and antimicrobial barrier and ensures an optical refractive surface. The lipid component originates from the meibomian glands of the tarsus and forms the superficial layer of the tear film. The aqueous component contains electrolytes, water, and a large variety of proteins, peptides and glycoproteins, and is primarily secreted by the lacrimal gland. Mucins are glycoproteins expressed by epithelial tissues of mucous surfaces. They protect tissues by functioning as antioxidants, providing lubrication, and inhibiting bacterial adherence. Quantitatively and qualitatively, its composition must be maintained within the fairly narrow limits to maintain a healthy and functional visual system. Abnormalities of the tear film, affecting the constituents or the volume, can rapidly result in serious dysfunction of the eyelids and conjunctiva and ultimately affect the transparency of the cornea. Many ocular surface tests have been developed for the clinical diagnosis of dry eye syndromes. This paper provides an overview on laboratory methods for the analysis of the tear film. Understanding the components of the tear film will aid in the treatment of dry eye syndromes and the ocular surface diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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