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Drop in temperature may explain the increase in dry eye suffering
Date:3/3/2011

Springtime may be just what the doctor orders for individuals suffering from dry eye condition, a disorder resulting from insufficient tear production or altered tear film composition. According to a study published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, a temperature less than 30 degrees Celsius on the eye and eyelid could be the cause for the onset or worsening of the disorder.

The study, (Meibomian Lipid Films and the Impact of Temperature) showed that the cold temperature causes the meibum, the oily substance which helps to form the outermost layer of the tear film, to become too thick and stiff to spread onto the eye surface.

"In outdoor conditions, the wind accelerates the drop in temperature of the ocular surface and the eyelids, thus the effect is even more pronounced," says author Igor A. Butovich, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. "This mechanism seems to be one of the major factors that cause dry eye to worsen in cold, windy weather such that it can affect even healthy people."

Based on previous experience, the research team expected to see measurable effects of temperature on meibum. However, the researchers were surprised the results of their experiment found that a bulk of meibum abruptly melted in a very narrow range of temperatures, right around an eye surface and eyelid temperature of 32 34 degrees Celsius. If the temperature fell just a few degrees below that, the bulk meibum solidified, which could then result in plugging up the meibomian gland ducts.

The experiments further demonstrated that even if the thicker, stiffer substance does reach the eye surface, it may not spread as easily as under normal conditions. The tear film that forms on the eye will not have the right characteristics, which might cause it to evaporate more quickly and decrease its protective capabiliti
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Contact: Katrina Norfleet
knorfleet@arvo.org
240-221-2924
Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
Source:Eurekalert

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