The tear ferning test: a simple clinical technique to evaluate the ocular tear film
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A healthy tear film is very important for many major functions of the ocular surface. Dry eye disease is a significant clinical problem that needs to be solved but the poor correlation between clinical signs and reported symptoms makes it difficult for the clinician to apply a scientific basis to his clinical management. The problem is compounded by the difficulties of evaluating the tear film due to its transparency, small volume and complex composition. Practical insight into tear film composition would be very useful to the clinician for patient diagnosis and treatment but detailed analysis is restricted to expensive, laboratory-based systems. There is a pressing need for a simple test. The tear ferning test is a laboratory test but it has the potential to be applied in the clinic setting to investigate the tear film in a simple way. Drying a small sample of tear fluid onto a clean, glass microscope slide produces a characteristic crystallisation pattern, described as a ‘tear fern’. This test is currently not widely used because of some limitations that need to be overcome but several studies have demonstrated its potential. Such limitations need to be resolved so that tear ferning could be used in the clinic setting to assess the tear film.
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Ali M. Masmali, Christine Purslow, Paul J. Murphy (2014). The tear ferning test: a simple clinical technique to evaluate the ocular tear film. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/11478