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Non-invasive assessment of tear film surface quality

Alonso-Caneiro, David (2010) Non-invasive assessment of tear film surface quality. PhD by Publication, Queensland University of Technology.


The tear film plays an important role preserving the health of the ocular surface and maintaining the optimal refractive power of the cornea. Moreover dry eye syndrome is one of the most commonly reported eye health problems. This syndrome is caused by abnormalities in the properties of the tear film. Current clinical tools to assess the tear film properties have shown certain limitations. The traditional invasive methods for the assessment of tear film quality, which are used by most clinicians, have been criticized for the lack of reliability and/or repeatability. A range of non-invasive methods of tear assessment have been investigated, but also present limitations. Hence no “gold standard” test is currently available to assess the tear film integrity. Therefore, improving techniques for the assessment of the tear film quality is of clinical significance and the main motivation for the work described in this thesis. In this study the tear film surface quality (TFSQ) changes were investigated by means of high-speed videokeratoscopy (HSV). In this technique, a set of concentric rings formed in an illuminated cone or a bowl is projected on the anterior cornea and their reflection from the ocular surface imaged on a charge-coupled device (CCD). The reflection of the light is produced in the outer most layer of the cornea, the tear film. Hence, when the tear film is smooth the reflected image presents a well structure pattern. In contrast, when the tear film surface presents irregularities, the pattern also becomes irregular due to the light scatter and deviation of the reflected light. The videokeratoscope provides an estimate of the corneal topography associated with each Placido disk image. Topographical estimates, which have been used in the past to quantify tear film changes, may not always be suitable for the evaluation of all the dynamic phases of the tear film. However the Placido disk image itself, which contains the reflected pattern, may be more appropriate to assess the tear film dynamics. A set of novel routines have been purposely developed to quantify the changes of the reflected pattern and to extract a time series estimate of the TFSQ from the video recording. The routine extracts from each frame of the video recording a maximized area of analysis. In this area a metric of the TFSQ is calculated. Initially two metrics based on the Gabor filter and Gaussian gradient-based techniques, were used to quantify the consistency of the pattern’s local orientation as a metric of TFSQ. These metrics have helped to demonstrate the applicability of HSV to assess the tear film, and the influence of contact lens wear on TFSQ. The results suggest that the dynamic-area analysis method of HSV was able to distinguish and quantify the subtle, but systematic degradation of tear film surface quality in the inter-blink interval in contact lens wear. It was also able to clearly show a difference between bare eye and contact lens wearing conditions. Thus, the HSV method appears to be a useful technique for quantitatively investigating the effects of contact lens wear on the TFSQ. Subsequently a larger clinical study was conducted to perform a comparison between HSV and two other non-invasive techniques, lateral shearing interferometry (LSI) and dynamic wavefront sensing (DWS). Of these non-invasive techniques, the HSV appeared to be the most precise method for measuring TFSQ, by virtue of its lower coefficient of variation. While the LSI appears to be the most sensitive method for analyzing the tear build-up time (TBUT). The capability of each of the non-invasive methods to discriminate dry eye from normal subjects was also investigated. The receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were calculated to assess the ability of each method to predict dry eye syndrome. The LSI technique gave the best results under both natural blinking conditions and in suppressed blinking conditions, which was closely followed by HSV. The DWS did not perform as well as LSI or HSV. The main limitation of the HSV technique, which was identified during the former clinical study, was the lack of the sensitivity to quantify the build-up/formation phase of the tear film cycle. For that reason an extra metric based on image transformation and block processing was proposed. In this metric, the area of analysis was transformed from Cartesian to Polar coordinates, converting the concentric circles pattern into a quasi-straight lines image in which a block statistics value was extracted. This metric has shown better sensitivity under low pattern disturbance as well as has improved the performance of the ROC curves. Additionally a theoretical study, based on ray-tracing techniques and topographical models of the tear film, was proposed to fully comprehend the HSV measurement and the instrument’s potential limitations. Of special interested was the assessment of the instrument’s sensitivity under subtle topographic changes. The theoretical simulations have helped to provide some understanding on the tear film dynamics, for instance the model extracted for the build-up phase has helped to provide some insight into the dynamics during this initial phase. Finally some aspects of the mathematical modeling of TFSQ time series have been reported in this thesis. Over the years, different functions have been used to model the time series as well as to extract the key clinical parameters (i.e., timing). Unfortunately those techniques to model the tear film time series do not simultaneously consider the underlying physiological mechanism and the parameter extraction methods. A set of guidelines are proposed to meet both criteria. Special attention was given to a commonly used fit, the polynomial function, and considerations to select the appropriate model order to ensure the true derivative of the signal is accurately represented. The work described in this thesis has shown the potential of using high-speed videokeratoscopy to assess tear film surface quality. A set of novel image and signal processing techniques have been proposed to quantify different aspects of the tear film assessment, analysis and modeling. The dynamic-area HSV has shown good performance in a broad range of conditions (i.e., contact lens, normal and dry eye subjects). As a result, this technique could be a useful clinical tool to assess tear film surface quality in the future.

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ID Code: 41737
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD by Publication)
Supervisor: Collins, Michael, Hendicott, Peter, & Read, Scott
Additional Information: Recipient of 2010 Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Award
Keywords: tear film, image processing, pattern analysis, high-speed videokeratoscopy, data modelling, tear film surface kinetics, non-invasive methods, ODTA
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Optometry & Vision Science
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 19 May 2011 01:59
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2013 06:15

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