Tear film changes associated with normal aging

William D. Mathers, James A. Lane, M. Bridget Zimmerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

197 Scopus citations


We examined a group of normal subjects to evaluate the tear film function by measuring reflex tear capacity using the Schirmer test without anesthetic, steady state tear flow using fluorophotometry, meibomian gland function based on gland drop-out, expressible lipid volume and viscosity, tear loss from evaporation, and tear osmolarity. We found the average tear flow to be 0.19±0.19 μl/min, lower than previously measured. The average tear volume was also correspondingly less, 2.74±2.0 μl. We found there was a decline associated with advancing age for all parameters except the decay constant and lipid volume. The highest correlations with aging were tear volume (- 0.64), Schirmer test (-0.63), and tear osmolarity (0.59). Our results indicate that there is a decline in tear film function throughout life and that tear flow is considerably less than previously estimated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-234
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Dry eye
  • Evaporation
  • Schirmer test
  • Tear film

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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