Objective: To investigate the effects of artificial tears on corneal surface regularity and visual function in dry eyes. Design: Nonrandomized, comparative trial. Participants: Forty patients (40 eyes) with dry eyes with (group 1, n = 15 eyes) or without (group 2, n = 25 eyes) punctate epithelial keratopathy and a normal control group of 20 individuals (20 eyes) with no ocular abnormalities (group 3). Methods: In both dry and normal eyes, the surface regularity index (SRI), surface asymmetry index (SAI), and potential visual acuity (PVA) were measured by computer-assisted videokeratography (TMS-1; Computed Anatomy, New York, NY). Spatial-contrast sensitivity and glare disability were also measured before and 1 minute after instillation of artificial tears. Main Outcome Measures: Differences in SRI, SAI, PVA, spatial-contrast sensitivity, and glare disability between groups, before instillation of tears, and within groups, after instillation of tears. Results: Compared with group 3, eyes in group 1 had significantly worse SRI, SAI, PVA, and contrast sensitivity (incomplete glare disability data precluded analysis) before instillation of artificial tears. Differences in corneal surface regularity and visual function between groups 2 and 3 were not significant except for a significantly increased glare disability at low spatial frequency (1.5 cycles per degree [cpd]) in group 2. Significant improvement in SRI, SAI, PVA, and contrast sensitivity were observed after instillation of artificial tears in group 1. In groups 2 and 3, the only significant changes were improvement in glare disability at 1.5 cpd and worsening of the SRI, respectively. Conclusions: Tear film changes in dry eye patients may lead to irregularities on the corneal surfaces, causing glare disability. However, these changes may be too subtle in the early stages of dry eyes to be detected by corneal topography or contrast sensitivity measurements. Significant improvement in SRI, SAI, PVA, and contrast sensitivity were found after instillation of artificial tears in dry eyes with punctate epithelial keratopathy.
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