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J Fr Ophtalmol. 2007 Jan;30(1):76-97.

[Ocular surface investigations in dry eye].

[Article in French]

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Service d'ophtalmologie 3, Centre Hospitalier National d'Ophtalmologie des Quinze-Vingts, Paris, France.


Dry eye is a complex clinicopathological entity involving tear film, lacrimal glands, eyelids, and a wide spectrum of ocular surface cells, including epithelial, inflammatory, immune, and goblet cells. From the tightly regulated lacrimal film functions and structure, a large variety of investigations have been developed, including tear meniscus measurements, fluorophotometry, meibometry, interference pattern analysis, evaporation rate, tear osmolarity, and thermography. Dry eye conditions also interfere with the ocular surface, causing corneal irregularities that may be explored using the techniques of videokeratography and in vivo confocal microscopy, or optical impairment, as confirmed by aberrometry. At the level of ocular surface cells, impression cytology remains a standard for assessing cell alterations. It has greatly benefited from new confocal microscopy, molecular biology, and flow cytometry techniques. Biological assessment of tear proteins or other mediators is also useful. Major limits should be acknowledged, however, such as technical issues in tear film collection, especially in dry eyes, and the lack of standardization of most measurements. Tear osmolarity, electrophoresis, and dosage of normal tear proteins, such as lysozyme or lactoferrin, remain the most useful tests. Finally, some extraocular explorations such as accessory gland biopsy or serum antinuclear antibody dosage may be useful for assessing the diagnosis of Sjögren's syndrome.

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