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Ping Situ, Carolyn G. Begley, Trefford L. Simpson; Effects of Tear Film Instability on Sensory Responses to Corneal Cold, Mechanical, and Chemical Stimuli. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(8):2935-2941. doi: 10.1167/iovs.19-27298.
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To investigate the effects of tear film instability (TFI) induced by sustained tear exposure (STARE) on sensory responses to corneal cold, mechanical, and chemical stimuli.
Fifteen normal subjects were enrolled. TFI was induced during 10 repeated trials of STARE. Pneumatic cold, mechanical, and chemical stimuli were delivered using a computer-controlled Belmonte esthesiometer on three separate visits. The magnitude of the sensory responses to threshold and suprathreshold (1.25 and 1.50 times threshold levels) stimuli were assessed for intensity, coolness or warmness, irritation and pain, using a 0 (none) to 100 (very strong) scale, before and after STARE trials. Symptoms of ocular discomfort were evaluated using the Current Symptom Questionnaire (CSQ). Repeated measures ANOVA was used for data analysis.
Following STARE trials, the intensity and coolness ratings to cooling stimuli decreased (P = 0.043 and 0.044 for intensity and coolness, respectively), while rated irritation to mechanical stimuli was increased (P = 0.024). The CSQ scores also increased regardless of visits (all P < 0.001). Intensity ratings, coolness to room temperature stimuli and irritation to mechanical and chemical stimuli increased for all suprathreshold stimuli with increasing stimulus levels (P ≤ 0.005).
Repeated TFI induced by STARE affects neurosensory function of the ocular surface. The decrease in reports of cooling and increase in irritation after repeated TFI suggest a complex interaction of neural mechanisms (particularly nonnociceptive cold and nociceptive mechanical) giving rise to ocular surface sensation in humans.
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