Purpose: To evaluate whether products of oxidative and inflammatory reactions are detectable in the tear fluid of patients suffering from dry eyes.
Methods: The tear fluid of 217 patients (397 eyes) was sampled. Criteria for grouping of the patients were (1) basic secretion test ("sicca 1": BST = 0-5 mm, n = 78 eyes; "sicca 2": BST = 6-10 mm, n = 109 eyes) and (2) subjective symptoms (normal BST, burning, foreign body sensations, tearing, dryness of the eyes: n = 78 eyes). One group of healthy patients (normal BST, n = 132 eyes) served as controls. Lipid peroxide levels and myeloperoxidase activity, as parameters for oxidative tissue damage and inflammatory activity, were determined in the tear fluid. Those patients whose consent could be obtained were subjected to the rose bengal test (sicca 1: 56 eyes; sicca 2: 97 eyes; subjective symptoms: 44 eyes; controls: 49 eyes). The correlation between BST and rose bengal test results was calculated.
Results: Lipid peroxides were significantly (P < 0.05) higher in the groups sicca 1 and subjective symptoms than in healthy controls, as was the inflammatory activity in groups sicca 1, sicca 2 and subjective symptoms. Additionally, the inflammatory activity in the group sicca 1 was significantly (P < 0.05) higher than in the groups sicca 2 and subjective symptoms. No evidence of a significant correlation between BST and rose bengal test results was observed.
Conclusions: Both oxidative tissue damage and polymorphonuclear leukocytes indicating an oxidative potential occur in the tear film of patients suffering from dry eyes. These reactions lead to severe damage of the involved tissue. Free radicals and inflammation may be involved in the pathogenesis or in the self-propagation of the disease.