Getting older may mean more than just wrinkles and new aches and pains. A new study, published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, reported dynamic changes to the tear film also occur as people age.

The study enrolled 75 participants who underwent a clinical assessment of their ocular surface status, ocular surface disease index (OSDI) grading and a tear sampling. The participants were placed into three groups based on age: young (ages 18 to 40), middle-aged (ages 41 to 60) and older (above 60 years of age).

Researchers conducted total protein profiles and chip-based protein array evaluations to investigate the expression of 60 potential candidates, including pro-/anti-inflammatory mediators and tissue remodeling factors. The investigators also performed comparisons for regression between potential candidates and age.

The study reported IL-8, IL-6, RANTES, MMP-1 and MIP-3β all increased with age.

“These select inflammatory and matrix remodeling factors may be relevant to the development of novel diagnostic tools and therapeutics in the context of age-related ocular surface disease,” the investigators said.

Micera A, Di Zazzo A, Esposito G, et al. Age-related changes to human tear composition. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2018;59(5):2024-31.