Children are increasingly exposed to environmental factors that may impact their eyes and cause ocular surface changes, including digital screens and smartphones, but these have not been investigated in this younger demographic, according to Ngozi C. Chidi-Egboka, OD, one of the authors of a new study.

Upon reviewing the ocular surface, tear stability and tear secretion in healthy children, a team of researchers concluded that there is insufficient data on ocular surface variables in these patients, making it difficult to draw valid comparisons with adult data.

The team summarized 23 studies, conducting meta-analysis using 15 of the eligible reports.

They found that the combined mean tear break up time (TBUT) in children was 14.64s and 21.76s for sodium fluorescein TBUT and non-invasive TBUT, respectively. The researchers note that the combined mean non-invasive TBUT was 32.5s in neonates. They also discovered that combined mean Schirmer I rates with and without anesthesia were 16.26mm/five minutes and 29.30mm/five minutes, respectively, in children and 9.36mm/five minutes and 17.63mm/five minutes, respectively, in neonates. They add that meta regression showed a significantly lower TBUT in children from studies conducted in Asia.

 “Understanding normal ocular surface characteristics and tear film function in children is of vital importance,” says Dr. Chidi-Egboka. “It will enhance our ability to diagnose variation from normal parameters in dry eye and ocular surface disease.”

Chidi-Egboka NC, Briggs NE, Jalbert I, et al. Analyzing tear film stability and tear secretion in children. Ocul Surf. September 30, 2018. [Epub ahead of print].