Impact of evaporation on aqueous tear loss

James P McCulley, Eduardo Uchiyama, Joel D. Aronowicz, Igor Butovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine the impact of evaporation on preocular aqueous tear (AT) loss in normal subjects (controls) and patients with keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS). Methods: Eighteen patients (32 eyes) with KCS with or without associated meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) and 11 sex-matched controls had AT evaporation determined between relative humidity (RH) of 20% and 45% using an evaporometer. AT volume, flow, and turnover were determined with a fluorophotometer. Results: Evaporative rates increased significantly when the RH was changed from 40%-45% to 20%-25% (P < .001). This change was similar in all groups and on average accounted for a 99.43% increase. There were no statistically significant differences in evaporative rate between controls, the KCS alone group, and the KCS/MGD group. Dry eye patients exhibited a decreased tear turnover when compared to controls. Evaporative contribution to tear loss at 40%-45% RH was 23.47% for controls, 30.99% for "classic" KCS patients, and 25.44% for KCS/MGD patients. At 20%-25% RH, the evaporative contribution was 41.66% for controls, 57.67% for classic KCS patients, and 50.28% for KCS/MGD patients. Conclusions: RH significantly impacts evaporation regardless of the presence of dry eye disease and probably accounts for the increased dry eye symptoms in people (controls and dry eye patients) in conditions of low RH (eg, deserts, airplane cabins, cold dry seasons). Contribution of evaporation to tear loss tends to be higher than previously described. The percent contribution is dependent on environmental conditions such as RH. There was a trend toward increased contribution to AT loss in dry eye patients vs controls, but statistical significance was not reached.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-126
Number of pages6
JournalTransactions of the American Ophthalmological Society
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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