Tear lipid layer thickness with eye drops in meibomian gland dysfunction

Clin Ophthalmol. 2016 Nov 7;10:2237-2243. doi: 10.2147/OPTH.S120158. eCollection 2016.


Purpose: The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of a lipid containing emollient eye drop, Soothe XP, which was reformulated in 2014 with a more stable preservative and buffer system, compared to a control, non-emollient, eye drop (Systane Ultra) in improving lipid layer thickness (LLT) in subjects with dry eye due to meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD).

Patients and methods: This prospective single-center, open-label, cross-over, examiner masked-study enrolled subjects aged 30-75 years with lipid-deficient dry eye and a clinical diagnosis of MGD as determined by a slit lamp examination, an evaluation of meibomian gland drop out with meibography, and a standard patient evaluation of eye dryness questionnaire of >5. Eligibility was then determined by a LLT of <75 nm at baseline and the inability to increase LLT ≥15 nm with three blinks, as determined by interferometric methods. Subjects were randomized to receive a single emollient or non-emollient eye drop at Visit 1 and were crossed over for the alternate treatment at Visit 2. At each visit, LLT was measured prior to and 15 minutes following the instillation of the assigned eye drop. The primary endpoint was the change in LLT from baseline.

Results: Subjects (n=40) were enrolled and 35 completed the two study arms. Mean (±SD) patient age was 55.7 years (10.9) and 69% were female. Mean (±SD) LLT at baseline was 49.5 nm (9.2). Instillation of Soothe XP resulted in an increase in LLT to 77.5 nm (29.3) 15 minutes following drop instillation, which is an increase of 28.0 nm (27.4) (P<0.001). In contrast, LLT 15 minutes after the instillation of Systane Ultra was 50.8 nm (14.1), which was not statistically significant when compared to the baseline LLT.

Conclusion: In this study of subjects with MGD, the emollient, or lipid containing eye drop, increased the LLT of tears when measured 15 minutes after instilling a single eye drop.

Keywords: dry eye; emollient; interferometry; lipid; meibomian; thickness.