Noninvasive estimation of blood alcohol concentrations: ethanol vapor above the eye

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1988 Apr;12(2):255-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.1988.tb00190.x.


The present study describes, in animals, a novel approach to the in vivo, noninvasive determination of alcohol in the body. The concentration of ethanol in vapor above the lacrimal fluid in the eye was analyzed in situ by the use of a fast (1-min) gas sensor method developed previously for biological liquids. After an oral dose of 1 g/kg to 11 animals, eye vapor measurements and blood samples were obtained over 4 hr. The correlation of 61 blood ethanol concentrations obtained by the two methods yielded a correlation coefficient of 0.92 and a slope of 0.99. The metabolic rates of ethanol determined by gas chromatographic analysis of blood and by ethanol eye vapor analysis are virtually identical. The data suggest that ethanol eye vapor analysis may be an attractive, noninvasive method for the determination of ethanol in animals. The method is not subject to false high readings due to alcohol in the buccal cavity and thus might constitute an alternative to breath analysis in the human. In a separate series, ethanol was determined by head space gas chromatography in samples of blood and lacrimal fluid while the animals were under ketamine anesthesia. The correlation of ethanol concentrations in blood and lacrimal fluid (r = 0.99) shows that ethanol is distributed in lacrimal fluid which comprises part of total body water.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ethanol / analysis
  • Ethanol / blood*
  • Eye
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Tears / analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Volatilization


  • Ethanol