Visualization of Tear Clearance Using Anterior Segment Optical Coherence Tomography and Polymethylmethacrylate Particles

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We previously reported 2 new methods, anterior segment optical coherence tomography (AS-OCT) and polymethylmethacrylate particles suspended in fluorescein solution (PPF), for the evaluation of tear clearance and rapid tear flow after blinking (tear Krehbiel flow). Here, we investigated age-related OCT tear clearance and tear film thickness (TFT) and the potential correlation of OCT tear clearance and PPF velocity indicative of tear Krehbiel flow. Normal subjects separated into young and older groups received 5 μL of saline solution into the lower conjunctival sac, and an image of the central lower eyelid tear meniscus was captured by AS-OCT immediately and 30 seconds after natural blinking. Tear meniscus height (TMH) and tear meniscus area (TMA) were measured, and their percentage decrease was defined as OCT clearance rate. A Spectralis OCT Anterior Segment Module captured the central corneal tear film layer for TFT measurements. OCT clearance rates were significantly higher in young versus older subjects (P = 0.0002). When all subjects were analyzed, age was significantly and negatively correlated with TMH clearance rate (r = −0.4928, P = 0.0003) and TMA clearance rate (r = −0.4596, P = 0.0008). TFT values were significantly and negatively correlated with age (r = −0.6662, P < 0.0001). A second experiment examined tear Krehbiel flow by measuring PPF velocity in frontal and medial gaze positions. The medial gaze position showed significantly increased PPF velocity compared with the frontal gaze position (P = 0.006). Significant and positive correlations were found between OCT clearance rates and PPF velocity (TMH rate: r = 0.2926, P = 0.0392; TMA rate: r = 0.3274, P = 0.0205). AS-OCT and PPF might be novel techniques for quantitative evaluation of tear clearance and Krehbiel flow.

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