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Optom Vis Sci. 2017 Apr;94(4):527-533. doi: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000001040.

Substance P in Flush Tears and Schirmer Strips of Healthy Participants.

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*PhD, MOptom, FAAO †PhD School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia (MM, JY); Deakin Optometry, Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, Victoria, Australia (MG); and University of Sydney, SaveSight Institute, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia (MM, JY).

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To determine the repeatability of the flush tear collection technique and the Schirmer strip for Substance P tear analysis.


The tears of 10 healthy non-contact-lens wearers were collected via Schirmer strip and microcapillary following instillation of either 20 μL (F-20) or 60 μL (F-60) of saline. Each technique was conducted on two occasions and in a randomized order. Total protein content (TPC) and Substance P concentrations were determined. The overall protein separation profile of each type of tears was examined using one-dimensional gel electrophoresis (1DGE).


Collection rates were significantly faster for the F-60 compared to F-20 (17.3 ± 6.9 μL/min and 11.9 ± 5.3 μL/min, respectively, P < .001), with an average Schirmer strip length of 1.5 ± 2.1 mm/min. The coefficient of repeatability between days and eyes was greatest for the Schirmer strip, with eyes and days being significantly different (P = .03 and P = .03, respectively) for Schirmer strip Substance P. TPC was 3.8 ± 2.6 mg/mL, 3.3 ± 1.8 mg/mL, and 3.6 ± 3.0 mg/mL for F-20, F-60, and Schirmer strip techniques, respectively, with no significant difference between techniques (P = .85). Substance P concentration was 13.1 ± 14.8 ng/mL, 9.1 ± 6.1 ng/mL, and 14.9 ± 10.6 ng/mL for F-20, F-60, and Schirmer strip tears, respectively, with no significant difference between techniques (P = .57). 1DGE profile showed similar electrophoresis patterns among F-20, F-60, and basal tears.


The F-60 method allows faster collection than F-20, but the latter results in better repeatability than both the F-60 and Schirmer sampling techniques. All three techniques return the same concentrations of TPC and Substance P. This indicates that tear collection using the F-20 may be more appropriate when conducting comparative analysis, whereas the F-60 may be more appropriate when more volume is required.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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