Purpose: To evaluate tear film stability in patients with tear dysfunction and an asymptomatic control group by using the novel, noninvasive Tear Stability Analysis System (TSAS).
Methods: In this prospective case-control study, 45 patients with dysfunctional tear syndrome (DTS) were stratified into three groups (1, 2, and 3/4) based on clinical severity, with higher scores indicating more severe symptoms; 25 asymptomatic control subjects were evaluated. TSAS measurements were performed with the RT-7000 Auto Refractor-Keratometer (Tomey Corporation, Nagoya, Japan). Images of ring mires projected onto the cornea every second for 6 seconds were captured and analyzed. Focal changes in brightness were calculated as numerical ring breakup (RBU) values, and the elapsed time when the cumulative values (RBU sum) exceeded a threshold was defined as the ring breakup time (RBUT).
Results: RBUTs in the DTS groups were all significantly lower than those in the control subjects, with the lowest values found in DTS 3/4. RBUT was significantly shorter in DTS 3/4 than in DTS 1 (P<0.001). The change in RBU sum over a 6-second period in the DTS groups combined or between the individual groups was statistically significant (P<0.001), as was the difference between the 1- and 6-second values. For distinguishing between asymptomatic controls and DTS, the sensitivity and specificity of a 5.0-second RBUT cutoff were 82.0% and 60.0%, respectively.
Conclusions: The TSAS may be a useful, noninvasive instrument for evaluating tear stability and for classifying DTS severity.