Aim: This study was performed to independently assess the turnover rates of aqueous and lipid layers of the tear film. Methods: Two fluorescent dyes, fluorescein sodium and 5-dodecanoylaminofluorescein (DAF), which is a free-fatty-acid conjugate of fluorescein, were applied to the right eye of 12 healthy volunteers. Fluorescent intensity of the precorneal tear film was measured at the central cornea every minute for 10 min for fluorescein sodium, and every 5 min for 50 min for DAF. The turnover rate was calculated by plotting fluorescent intensity against time in a semilog plot and expressed as %/min. Results: Turnover rates of fluorescein sodium and DAF were 10.3 (SD 3.7)%/min and 0.93 (0.36)%/min, respectively. The turnover rate of DAF was significantly lower than that of fluorescein sodium (p<0.05, Mann-Whitney test). The turnover rate of DAF positively correlated with that of fluorescein sodium (r = 0.93, p<0.05). Conclusion: Our results indicate that the turnover of lipids in tears is much slower than the aqueous flow of tears, and that this lipid turnover is associated with the aqueous flow of tears in healthy adults.
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