Lid wiper epitheliopathy

Prog Retin Eye Res. 2016 Jul:53:140-174. doi: 10.1016/j.preteyeres.2016.04.004. Epub 2016 Apr 14.


Some recent research has resulted in a hypothesis that there is a common 'lid wiper' region that is apposite to the ocular surface or anterior lens surface (where contact lenses are worn), responsible for spreading tears during blinking. In the upper eyelid, it extends about 0.6 mm from the crest of the sharp posterior (inner) lid border (i.e. the mucocutaneous junction, or line of Marx) to the subtarsal fold superiorly and from the medial upper punctum to the lateral canthus horizontally. Histologically, it is seen as an epithelial elevation comprising of stratified epithelium with a transitional conjunctival structure of (moving posteriorly) squamous cells then cuboidal cells, with some parakeratinised cells and goblet cells. Lid wiper epitheliopathy (LWE) denotes staining of the lid wiper observed after instillation of dyes such as fluorescein, rose bengal or lissamine green. There have been some reports of higher rates of LWE in dry eye patients and contact lens wearers, but others have failed to find such associations. The primary cause of LWE is thought to be increased friction between the lid wiper and ocular or anterior contact lens surface due to inadequate lubrication, which could be caused by dry eye and may be exacerbated by factors such as abnormal blinking patterns, poor contact lens surface lubricity and adverse environmental influences. Recent evidence suggests that LWE is associated with sub-clinical inflammation. LWE has the potential to provide the missing mechanistic link between clinical observation and symptoms associated with dry eye and contact lens wear. Clinical and fundamental research into LWE is still in its infancy and in many instances equivocal; however, it is an idea that provides a potentially important new avenue for further investigation of anterior eye discomfort associated with ocular dryness and contact lens wear.

Keywords: Contact lens; Dry eye; Eye lids; Lid wiper epitheliopathy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Conjunctival Diseases / pathology*
  • Contact Lenses / adverse effects
  • Epithelium / pathology*
  • Epithelium, Corneal / physiopathology*
  • Eyelid Diseases / pathology*
  • Eyelids / physiopathology
  • Humans