PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the repeatability of tear evaporimetry based on infrared thermography in a clinical room setting and to test the effect of changing environmental humidity on ocular surface temperature (OST) and tear evaporation rates (TERs) in a controlled adverse environmental (CAE) chamber.
METHODS: Twenty-six healthy participants were enrolled, of whom 16 underwent repeatability measurements in a clinical room and 10 were exposed to a constant temperature of 30°C with a humidity of 45 and 65% in a CAE. Participants were acclimatized to each condition for at least 20 minutes before OSTs were taken. Tear film breakup time was assessed in the CAE only. Number of blinks and OSTs were continuously measured for 20 seconds for the cornea, conjunctiva, and overall ocular surface with an infrared camera; corresponding TERs were calculated.
RESULTS: The OSTs and TERs showed acceptable strength of agreement between the first and second measurements. The coefficients of repeatability were 0.4°C for OST and 6.0 W m for TER. An increase in chamber humidity (from 45 to 65%) increased OST (p < 0.05). The TER was not changed significantly (p > 0.05). The tear film breakup time and number of blinks were not significantly affected by different humidity conditions.
CONCLUSIONS: This technique has acceptable repeatability and has potential to document individual tear evaporation changes with time where humidity may differ by less than 20%.