Ocular surface temperature: a review

Eye Contact Lens. 2005 May;31(3):117-23. doi: 10.1097/01.icl.0000141921.80061.17.


Purpose: To review the evolution in ocular temperature measurement during the last century and examine the advantages and applications of the latest noncontact techniques. The characteristics and source of ocular surface temperature are also discussed.

Methods: The literature was reviewed with regard to progress in human thermometry techniques, the parallel development in ocular temperature measurement, the current use of infrared imaging, and the applications of ocular thermography.

Results: It is widely acknowledged that the ability to measure ocular temperature accurately will increase the understanding of ocular physiology. There is a characteristic thermal profile across the anterior eye, in which the central area appears coolest. Ocular surface temperature is affected by many factors, including inflammation. In thermometry of the human eye, contact techniques have largely been superseded by infrared imaging, providing a noninvasive and potentially more accurate method of temperature measurement. Ocular thermography requires high resolution and frame rate: features found in the latest generation of cameras. Applications have included dry eye, contact lens wear, corneal sensitivity, and refractive surgery.

Conclusions: Interest in the temperature of the eye spans almost 130 years. It has been an area of research largely driven by prevailing technology. Current instrumentation offers the potential to measure ocular surface temperature with more accuracy, resolution, and speed than previously possible. The use of dynamic ocular thermography offers great opportunities for monitoring the temperature of the anterior eye.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Temperature / physiology*
  • History, 16th Century
  • History, 17th Century
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Ocular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Thermometers / history