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Thomas J. Millar, P. Ewen King-Smith; Analysis of Comparison of Human Meibomian Lipid Films and Mixtures with Cholesteryl Esters In Vitro Films using High Resolution Color Microscopy. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2012;53(8):4710-4719. doi: 10.1167/iovs.12-10022.
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The lipid layer of the tears has been studied in vivo using high resolution color microscopy (HRCM). The purpose of these experiments was to gain further insight into the structure of the lipid layer by applying HRCM to in vitro meibomian lipid films.
Films of human meibomian lipids, cholesteryl nervonate, cholesteryl palmitate, or their mixtures, were spread on a Langmuir trough. Changes to the films were monitored using HRCM as the films were compressed to different surface pressures. The penetration of albumin into a meibomian lipid film also was studied.
Small amounts of meibomian lipids at low pressures formed very thin films estimated to be 5.2 nm thick. Compression caused spots to appear in the films. At higher concentrations, micro lenses were a feature of the film. Cholesteryl nervonate formed a multilayered oil slick that did not change with surface pressure. Cholesteryl palmitate formed a stiff film that collapsed at high compression. Mixtures of cholesteryl nervonate and meibomian lipids showed that they mixed to increase surface pressures above that of the individual components. HRCM also allowed albumin to be seen penetrating the meibomian lipid film.
HRCM combined with in vitro surface pressure measurements using a Langmuir trough is useful for modeling meibomian lipid films. The films often resemble the appearance of the lipid layer of in vivo films. The data indicate that the lipid layer might be modeled best as a duplex film containing an array of liquid crystals.
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