How Does Temperature Affect Dry Eye?

March 10, 2011

Yet another study has found that temperature appears to be an important factor in aggravating the symptoms of dry eye.  New research shows that the meibum, the oily component of tears that forms their outer layer, has a narrow temperature window (32-34oC or 89.6-93.2oF) below which it solidifies and cannot spread over the surface of the eye.

Only a few degrees below this window caused an abrupt “melting” of the meibum with a risk of clogging up the meibomian gland ducts. The researchers also found that cold conditions activated “cold thermoreceptors” in the cornea, and hypothesized that dysfunction in these receptors may lead to some forms of dry eye.

Outdoor cold and in particular windy conditions can drop the temperature of the eyelid and ocular surface, exacerbating dry eye symptoms.  Therefore anything that can keep the temperature at the eye surface consistent, such as goggles, can keep the tears spreading properly.

For the study abstract, click here.

Risa Schulman, PhD
Expert, Healthy Food and Dietary Supplement Science, Marketing and Regulatory




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