Model for ocular tear film function

William D. Mathers, James A. Lane, John E. Sutphin, M. Bridget Zimmerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Blepharitis patients have a number of disturbances in their tear film associated with meibomian gland dysfunction that affect evaporation and tear osmolarity. We tested a series of 156 consecutive patients, with a presumed diagnosis of blepharitis, dry eye, or allergic disease, and a series of 72 normals. We compared their tear film characteristics using tear osmolarity, tear volume, tear production (fluorophotometric and Schirmer test), tear turnover (decay constant), tear evaporation, and meibomian gland function evaluated by gland drop-out, expressed lipid viscosity, and volume. Of the 156 patients tested, we found 37 had only dry eye, 10 had only allergic disease, 73 had meibomian gland dysfunction and dry eye, and 36 had only meibomian gland dysfunction. We created a model of the relative influence some of these factors had on each other using their correlation coefficients. The highest correlations for osmolarity were Schirmer test (-0.44), lipid volume low (-0.44), lipid viscosity high (0.39), gland drop-out (0.39), and tear evaporation (0.36). With regression analysis we accounted for 47% of the total variation in osmolarity, but only 17% of the variation in tear evaporation. We also present our classification system for blepharitis and dry eye patients based on our measurable physiologic parameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-119
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Blepharitis
  • Dry eye
  • Evaporation
  • Meibomian gland dysfunction
  • Tear film

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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