Quantitative assessment of tear production: A review of methods and utility in dry eye drug discovery

J Ocul Biol Dis Infor. 2008 Mar;1(1):1-6. doi: 10.1007/s12177-008-9006-2. Epub 2008 Jul 16.


The successful development of a therapeutic agent targeting treatment of dry eye syndrome necessitates the demonstration of drug efficacy for both sign and symptom endpoints. As numerous therapeutic strategies incorporate a secretagogue function into their overall mechanism of action, the quantitative assessment of tear production serves as a logical endpoint to anchor "sign" efficacy. Although several methods including the Schirmer, the phenol red thread and tear clearance tests exist, their utility in clinical evaluations of novel therapeutics is unclear. The purpose of this review is to summarize findings and conclusions describing the performance of each of these tests so as to gain insight into which, if any, is most applicable for use in discovering new dry eye therapeutics.

Keywords: Dry eye; Fluorophotometry; Phenol read thread; Schirmer test; Tear clearance; Tear secretion.