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Review Article

Structural and Molecular Tear Film Changes in Glaucoma

[ Vol. 26 , Issue. 22 ]


Rodolfo Mastropasqua*, Luca Agnifili and Leonardo Mastropasqua   Pages 4225 - 4240 ( 16 )


The Tear Film (TF) is a trilaminar and dynamic fluid covering the entire Ocular Surface (OS), consisting of a mucus, aqueous, and lipid layer deeply interacting between them. Because of its structure and functions, TF plays a pivotal role in the preservation of the OS integrity and the quality of vision. Medical therapy for glaucoma is recognized to profoundly disturb the OS homeostasis by altering all components of the ocular surface unit, including TF. The presence of preservatives, the number of daily eye drops instillations, and the duration of therapy are the main contributors to TF changes. From the physio-pathological side, TF alterations are induced by toxic and allergic mechanisms and result from goblet cell and Meibomian gland loss, dysfunction of accessory lacrimal glands, and epithelial disruption.

In detail, TF changes are represented by mucus layer thinning, reduced mucin concentration, aqueous layer volume reduction, and lipid layer thinning with increased tear evaporation. Hyper- osmolarity and instability represent the main hallmarks of these changes and are an expression of a iatrogenic form of dry eye. TF undergoes also molecular modifications that primarily reflect a therapy- or disease-induced inflammatory status of the OS. Over the last years, this field of research aimed a progressively growing interest since molecular variations may be considered as potential candidate biomarkers of glaucoma. The aim of this review is to report the main TF changes occurring during glaucoma, exploring the relationship they may have with the glaucoma-related ocular surface disease and the patient quality of life, and their utility as potential biomarkers of disease.


Tear film, glaucoma, anti-glaucoma drugs, glaucoma filtration surgery, ocular surface disease, quality of life, glaucoma biomarkers.


Whipps Cross University Hospital, Eye Treatment Center, London, Ophthalmology Clinic, Department of Medicine and Aging Science, University G. d'Annunzio of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Ophthalmology Clinic, Department of Medicine and Aging Science, University G. d'Annunzio of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti

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