Lacrimal testing. Age as a factor in Jones testing

Ophthalmology. 1994 Mar;101(3):612-7.


Purpose: A modified Jones test is used to assess whether lacrimal transit time varies with age.

Methods: The right eyes of 101 control subjects and 18 patients suspected of having lacrimal system abnormalities were tested with one drop of 2% sodium fluorescein solution. A cotton applicator was placed in the nose next to the inferior turbinate and participants were asked to lean forward. Dye passage was assessed every 3 minutes for 24 minutes.

Results: The results were assessed by age. In control subjects, there seemed to be a natural break in the distribution of the data at the age of 45 to 50 years. In control subjects younger than 45 years of age, 10/11 (91%) passed dye in 6 minutes or less (median = 3 minutes), whereas in those 45 years of age and older, 79/90 (84%) passed dye in 12 minutes or less (median = 6 minutes). The results were statistically significant (P = 0.0091). In contrast, patients with symptoms of epiphora due to a nasolacrimal duct obstruction had lacrimal transit times in excess of the above limits.

Conclusion: This study confirms that the lacrimal transit time slows with age. The modification of the Jones test presented here requires a cutoff of 6 minutes in patients younger than 45 years of age and 12 minutes in patients 45 years of age and older.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Fluorescein
  • Fluoresceins
  • Humans
  • Lacrimal Apparatus / physiology
  • Lacrimal Duct Obstruction / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Fluoresceins
  • Fluorescein