Impact of ocular surface temperature on tear characteristics: Current insights

Ankit M. Shah, Anat Galor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Infrared (IR) thermographic assessment of ocular surface temperature (OST) is gaining interest as an adjuvant method to evaluate the ocular surface. It is a quick, noninvasive test that causes minimal, if any, discomfort to patients. The purpose of this article was to summarize research on how OST relates to tear film parameters and dry eye disease (DED). PubMed, Google Scholar, and Scopus searches for specific terms were carried out and eligible articles reviewed. OST of the central cornea is ~34-35°C when measured as a single time-point (typically right after a blink). Dynamically, OST values decrease over time at a rate of ~ −0.01 °C/s in healthy eyes. Single time-point OST values are impacted by temperature, with positive correlations noted with both ambient (1°C↓ results in ~0.16°C↓ in OST) and body (1°C↑ results in ~0.98°C↑ in OST) temperature. Single time-point OST values are also impacted by tear parameters, with negative correlations noted with tear break-up time (TBUT; r=−0.61) and positive correlations with lipid layer thickness (~r=0.50). Dynamically, the rate of OST cooling over the interblink period correlates with various tear parameters including Schirmer’s test scores (r=−0.39), tear meniscus height (r=−0.52) and the rate of tear film break-up (r=−0.74). These data imply that OST decreases more rapidly in individuals with greater tear production, larger tear volumes, and shorter tear break-up times (faster rates of tear film break-up). There are discrepancies in relationships between OST and DED across studies, which is not surprising given that DED encompasses a number of different phenotypic presentations. However, most studies found that OST decreases at a more rapid rate in DED vs. control groups. As such, cooling rate may have utility as a screening tool in DED in combination with established point-of-care tests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-62
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Optometry
StatePublished - 2021


  • Dry eye
  • Ocular thermography
  • Tear film

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


Dive into the research topics of 'Impact of ocular surface temperature on tear characteristics: Current insights'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this