, Volume 68, Issue 6, pp 1355-1381
Date: 16 May 2006

The Effect of the Lipid Layer on Tear Film Behaviour

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This paper investigates the effect of surfactants during tear film deposition and subsequent thinning. The surfactants occur naturally on the surface of the tear film in the form of a lipid layer. A lubrication model is developed that describes lipid spreading and film height evolution. It is shown that lipids may play an important role in drawing the tear film up the cornea during the opening phase of the blink. Further, nonuniform distributions of lipids may lead to a rapid thinning of the tear film behind the advancing lipid front (shock). Experiments using a fluorescein dye technique and using a tearscope were undertaken in order to visualise the motion of the lipid layer and any associated shocks immediately after a blink. It is found that the lipid layer continues to spread upwards on the cornea after the opening phase of the blink, in agreement with the model. Using the experimental data, lipid particles were tracked in order to determine the surface velocity and these results are compared to the model predictions.