Effect of Ambient Temperature on the Human Tear Film

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During everyday life, the tear film is exposed to a wide range of ambient temperatures. This study aims to investigate the effect of ambient temperature on tear film physiology.


A controlled environment chamber was used to create different ambient temperatures (5, 10, 15, 20, and 25°C) at a constant relative humidity of 40%. Subjects attended for two separate visits and were exposed to 25, 20, and 15°C at one visit and to 10 and 5°C at the other visit. The subjects were exposed to each room temperature for 10 min before investigating tear film parameters. The order of the visits was random. Tear physiology parameters assessed were tear evaporation rate, noninvasive tear break-up time (NITBUT), lipid layer thickness (LLT), and ocular surface temperature (OST). Each parameter was assessed under each condition.


A threefold increase in tear evaporation rate was observed as ambient temperature increased to 25°C (P=0.00). The mean evaporation rate increased from 0.056 μL/min at 5°C to 0.17 μL/min at 25°C. The mean NITBUT increased from 7.31 sec at 5°C to 12.35 sec at 25°C (P=0.01). A significant change in LLT was also observed (P=0.00), LLT median ranged between 20 and 40 nm at 5 and 10°C and increased to 40 and 90 nm at 15, 20, and 25°C. Mean reduction of 4°C OST was observed as ambient temperature decreased from 25 to 5°C.


Ambient temperature has a considerable effect on human tear film characteristics. Tear evaporation rate, tear LLT, tear stability, and OST were considerably affected by ambient temperature. Chronic exposure to low ambient temperature would likely result in symptoms of dry eye and ultimately ocular surface disorders.

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