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A comparative study of the quality of non-stimulated and stimulated tears in normal eye male subjects using the tear ferning test

Authors Alanazi SA, Aldawood MA, Badawood YS, El-Hiti GA, Masmali AM

Received 6 May 2019

Accepted for publication 11 June 2019

Published 3 July 2019 Volume 2019:11 Pages 65—71

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/OPTO.S214597

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Mr Simon Berry


Saud A Alanazi, Mohammed A Aldawood, Yousef S Badawood, Gamal A El-Hiti, Ali M Masmali

Cornea Research Chair, Department of Optometry, College of Applied Medical Sciences, King Saud University, Riyadh 11433, Saudi Arabia

Purpose: To evaluate and compare the tear ferning patterns of non-stimulated and stimulated tears in normal eye male subjects using the tear ferning test.
Methods: Thirty-five male subjects aged 20–38 years with normal eyes were enrolled in the study. Subjects with dry eye or with a risk factor for eye dryness (eg, recent ocular surgery, contact-lens wearers, smokers, anemic, diabetes, and thyroid gland problems) were excluded from the study. Dry eye subjects were excluded based on the ocular surface diseases index scores, non-invasive tear break-up time, and tear meniscus height measurements from the right and left eyes. A tear sample was collected from both eyes in each subject to perform the tear ferning test for non-stimulated tears. After 10 mins, the tears were stimulated using a Schirmer strip, a tear sample was collected from both eyes in each participant, the tear ferning test was performed, and the ferns were graded based on the five-point tear ferning grading scale.
Results: The average tear ferning grade [median (interquartile range)] for non-stimulated tears from the right and left eyes was 0.60 (1.25) and 0.50 (1.31), respectively. For stimulated tears, the average tear ferning grade from the right and left eyes was 0.50 (1.05) and 0.75 (1.25), respectively. There was no significant difference in the tear ferning grades obtained from non-stimulated and stimulated tears (Wilcoxon test, P>0.05).
Conclusion: This study found no significant difference in the tear ferning patterns obtained from non-stimulated and stimulated tears, or between the tear ferning patterns in the tears collected from the right and left eyes before and after stimulating tears. It seems that there were no changes in the chemical composition of tears before and after stimulation, possibly due to the steady concentration of electrolytes and lipids within the tear film for both non-stimulated and stimulated tears.

Keywords: tear ferning patterns, tear quality, tear film, eye dryness, non-stimulated and stimulated tears

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