Purpose: To determine by optical coherence tomography (OCT) the effect of blinking on ocular surface tear volume after instillation of artificial tears. Design: Experimental study. Methods: Normal human eyes (n = 21) were imaged to obtain dimensions of the tear film and menisci during blinking. The imaging was carried out immediately and five minutes after the instillation of 35 μl midviscosity artificial tears (1.0% carboxymethylcellulose; Refresh Liquigel; Allergan, Irvine, California, USA). The exposed ocular surface area and the lid lengths were used to calculate the volumes. Results: Immediately after the instillation, total tear volume was increased (P < .001) compared with five minutes after the instillation, with the major increases in the lower tear meniscus volume and tear film volume. After the instillation, blinking caused tear loss in total tear volume because of the decrease of the lower tear meniscus volume (P < .05). In contrast, blinking increased the tear film volume (P < .05). At the end of the eye-opening period, tear film volume decreased and lower tear meniscus volume increased significantly (P < .05), with no significant changes in total tear volume (P > .05). During the blink cycle immediately after the instillation, net loss was evident in tear film volume, lower tear meniscus volume, and total tear volume (P < .05). Conclusions: Blinking plays a crucial role in distribution and removal of instilled tears. When the tear system is overloaded, the increase in blink output helps restore balance.
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