Purpose: To review the significance of mucin in the tear film and the ocular surface epithelium.
Methods: Summary of the information on how mucin derived from the corneal and conjunctival epithelia and from goblet cells plays a role in the stability of the tear film over the ocular surface. The change in mucin expression derived from the ocular surface epithelium is also discussed with reference to ocular surface disease.
Results: The corneal and conjunctival epithelia produce transmembrane mucins such as MUC1, MUC2, and MUC4. In contrast, goblet cells produce the gel-forming secretory mucin, MUC5AC. The lacrimal gland produces MUC7. On the ocular surface, cooperation between transmembrane mucin and secretory mucin is necessary for the stability of the tear film. The expression of mucin from the ocular surface epithelium is coordinated from the time of eyelid opening and is altered in conditions such as squamous metaplasia and dry eye. This alteration may result in instability of the tear film. CONCLU SION: The induction of mucin from the ocular surface may facilitate the stability of the tear film, and increased knowledge may lead to the development of a new modality for the treatment of dry eye.