Effects of warm compress on tear film, blink pattern and Meibomian gland function in dry eyes after corneal refractive surgery

BMC Ophthalmol. 2021 Sep 10;21(1):330. doi: 10.1186/s12886-021-02091-2.


Background: To assess the effects of warm compress (WC) on tear film lipid layer, blink pattern and Meibomian gland function in patients with dry eye following femtosecond laser small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE) and laser-assisted subepithelial keratomileusis (LASEK).

Methods: We enrolled 37 eyes of 37 participants, each with dry eye for more than 2 years following SMILE (25 eyes) or LASEK (12 eyes). WC was performed using a spontaneously heating eye mask. Tear film break-up time (TBUT), tear film lipid layer thickness (TFLLT), blink pattern, Meibomian secretory function scores (MGS), visual acuity, spherical equivalent (SE), keratometry, central corneal thickness (CCT) and aberration were assessed before and after WC.

Results: After WC, the following mean values all increased relative to baselines: CCT, SE, minimum (Min-), maximum (Max-) and average (Ave-) TFLLT, TBUT, total MGS (TMGS), number of glands secreting any liquid (MGL), and complete blink rate (CBR) (p values ranging from < 0.001 to 0.042). Partial blink frequency (PBF) and partial blink rate (PBR) decreased (p = 0.002 in both cases). The decrease of PBF was higher in SMILE subgroup than in LASEK (p = 0.030). TBUT variation was positively correlated with that of Ave-TFLLT and TMGS (p = 0.046, 0.028, respectively). Max-TFLLT variation was correlated with that of TMGS (p = 0.020).

Conclusions: WC may temporarily increase tear film thickness and stability, decrease partial blink, and partly augment Meibomian gland function in dry eye patients after corneal refractive surgeries. Future studies are required to investigate long term clinical efficacy and safety.

Keywords: Dry eye; LASEK; SMILE; Warm compress.

MeSH terms

  • Dry Eye Syndromes* / etiology
  • Humans
  • Keratectomy, Subepithelial, Laser-Assisted*
  • Meibomian Glands
  • Refractive Surgical Procedures*
  • Tears