Effect of an oil-in-water emulsion on the tear physiology of patients with mild to moderate dry eye

Cornea. 2007 Feb;26(2):175-81. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e31802b492d.


Purpose: To determine the effect of an oil-in-water emulsion eye drop compared with a conventional dry eye supplement (hypromellose) on tear physiology in dry eye.

Methods: A randomized parallel, longitudinal, and investigator-masked study of the efficacy of 1.25% castor oil emulsion and 0.32% hypromellose solution was carried out. A total of 53 patients with mild to moderate dry eye (27 in emulsion group and 26 in hypromellose group) were recruited for the study. Patients were enrolled if they reported at least 2 symptoms on a McMonnies Dry Eye Questionnaire together with 1 of the following screening tests: noninvasive tear breakup time (5-10 seconds) and Schirmer test without anesthesia (2-5 mm in 5 minutes). Patients were instructed to use the test solutions 3 times a day for 30 days. Tear production, evaporation, lipid layer structure, and osmolality were measured before and 30 days after use of the drops.

Results: A statistically significant decrease was seen after 1 month in tear evaporation rates with both emulsion (7.25 +/- 5.43 g/m2/h) and hypromellose (2.02 +/- 4.75 g/m2/h). However, the decrease with emulsion was significantly greater than with hypromellose (P < 0.001). Lipid layer structure improved from day 1 to day 30 of the study with the emulsion but not with the hypermellose. No significant changes were seen in tear production and osmolality with either of the drops.

Conclusions: The oil-water emulsion was more effective in reducing tear evaporation than hypromellose after repeated application over a 1-month period. This finding signifies the potential of the emulsion in the management of evaporative dry eye.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Castor Oil / administration & dosage*
  • Castor Oil / therapeutic use
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / diagnosis
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / drug therapy*
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / metabolism
  • Emulsions
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypromellose Derivatives
  • Interferometry
  • Male
  • Methylcellulose / administration & dosage
  • Methylcellulose / analogs & derivatives*
  • Methylcellulose / therapeutic use
  • Ophthalmic Solutions
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Patient Compliance
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tears / drug effects
  • Tears / physiology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Water / administration & dosage*


  • Emulsions
  • Ophthalmic Solutions
  • Water
  • Hypromellose Derivatives
  • Castor Oil
  • Methylcellulose