Components of the ocular surface synergistically contribute to maintaining and protecting a smooth refractive layer to facilitate the optimal transmission of light. At the air-water interface, the tear film lipid layer (TFLL), a mixture of lipids and proteins, plays a key role in tear surface tension and is important for the physiological hydration of the ocular surface and for ocular homeostasis. Alterations in tear fluid rheology, differences in lipid composition, or downregulation of specific tear proteins are found in most types of ocular surface disease, including dry eye disease (DED). Artificial tears have long been a first line of treatment in DED and aim to replace or supplement tears. More recently, lipid-containing eye drops have been developed to more closely mimic the combination of aqueous and lipid layers of the TFLL. Over the last 2 decades, our understanding of the nature and importance of lipids in the tear film in health and disease has increased substantially. The aim of this article is to provide a brief overview of our current understanding of tear film properties and review the effectiveness of lipid-based products in the treatment of DED. Liposome lid sprays, emulsion eye drops, and other lipid-containing formulations are discussed.
Keywords: emulsion; lipid layer; liposome; ocular surface disease; tear film.