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Marisa Tesón, María J. González-García, Alberto López-Miguel, Amalia Enríquez-de-Salamanca, Vicente Martín-Montañez, María Jesús Benito, María Eugenia Mateo, Michael E. Stern, Margarita Calonge; Influence of a Controlled Environment Simulating an In-Flight Airplane Cabin on Dry Eye Disease. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2013;54(3):2093-2099. doi: 10.1167/iovs.12-11361.
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To evaluate symptoms, signs, and the levels of 16 tears inflammatory mediators of dry eye (DE) patients exposed to an environment simulating an in-flight air cabin in an environmental chamber.
Twenty DE patients were exposed to controlled environment simulating an in-flight airplane cabin (simulated in-flight condition [SIC]) of 23°C, 5% relative humidity, localized air flow, and 750 millibars (mb) of barometric pressure. As controls, 15 DE patients were subjected to a simulated standard condition (SSC) of 23°C, 45% relative humidity, and 930 mb. A DE symptoms questionnaire, diagnostic tests, and determination of 16 tear molecules by multiplex bead array were performed before and 2 hours after exposure.
After SIC exposure, DE patients became more symptomatic, suffered a significant (P ≤ 0.05) decrease in tear stability (tear break up time) (from 2.18 ± 0.28 to 1.53 ± 0.20), and tear volume (phenol red thread test), and a significant (P ≤ 0.05) increase in corneal staining, both globally (0.50 ± 0.14 before and 1.25 ± 0.19 after) and in each area (Baylor scale). After SSC, DE patients only showed a mild, but significant (P ≤ 0.05), increase in central and inferior corneal staining. Consistently, tear levels of IL-6 and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 significantly increased and tear epidermal growth factor (EGF) significantly decreased (P ≤ 0.05) only after SIC.
The controlled adverse environment conditions in this environmental chamber can simulate the conditions in which DE patients might be exposed during flight. As this clearly impaired their lacrimal functional unit, it would be advisable that DE patients use therapeutic strategies capable of ameliorating these adverse episodes.
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