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Fluids of the ocular surface: concepts, functions and physics


  • Competing/conflicts of interest: No stated conflict of interest.

  • Funding sources: No stated funding sources.

Dr Ivan Cher, 54 Aroona Road, Caulfield North, Vic. 3161, Australia. Email:


General adoption of the ocular surface (OS) concept has advanced the therapy of the external eye. Fresh physical findings have prompted new concepts; examples taken from each section of the text are: (i) ever-present lipid sealant bridges the palpebral fissure capping the three-dimensional ‘OS’ sac. The muco-aqueous pool (MAP) is thus enclosed, secluded from atmosphere, evaporation mitigated. Hence, the OS is conceptually, a compartment. The term ‘dacruon’ (otherwise ‘tear film’) has been coined for the combined fluids of the OS, viz. lipid film and MAP. (ii) Investigative techniques of physics yield data on (say) surface tension and viscosity, and on functions such as anchorage of dacruon base to the varied mucosae of the OS, lubrication, renovation of intermarginal fluid layers as the eye opens after each blink, and refinement of optics and vision by the fluids attached to the cornea. (iii) Physical events in the opening eye produce the unique ‘black line’ phenomenon in which capillary force induces subsurface flows into thirsty menisci, bringing about parameniscal dark grooves, pupil-ward of each meniscus. Attenuation of fluorescein in the shallowed fluid gaps behind each groove makes the dye appear unilluminated (‘black lines’) relative to adjacent full-thickness MAP fluid glowing under cobalt-blue illumination. Isolated from cornea by grooves and gaps, the meniscal fluid cannot pass freely over the cornea. It therefore streams through the menisci to nasolacrimal outflow.