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Schirmer Tear Test in cats: New insights
Schirmer Tear Test (STT) is one of the `classic` investigations in animals with eye problems. Now a new question was raised and answered with this brandnew study: Is there a difference in the tear film break-up time beween healthy cats and those with conjunctivitis?

This study was performed (1) to document tear film break-up time (TFBUT) in a group of cats with conjunctivitis; (2) to determine if TFBUTs from cats with conjunctivitis vary significantly from previously established normal values for TFBUT in young cats without ocular disease; (3) to determine if a correlation exists between Schirmer tear test (STT) values and TFBUTs in cats with conjunctivitis; (4) to determine if the TFBUTs in cats with conjunctivitis are influenced by the detection of DNA from feline herpes virus-type 1 (FHV-1), Chlamydophila felis, Mycoplasma spp., and feline calicivirus.

Animals studied were fourteen cats between the ages of 0.8 years to 12 years with active, untreated conjunctivitis and without active keratitis or other ocular or systemic abnormalities were included in this study.

Complete ophthalmic examinations, including TFBUT, were performed on all cats. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) screening for FHV-1, Chlamydophila felis, Mycoplasma spp., and feline calicivirus was performed on conjunctival swabs from affected eyes and blood samples from all cats.

Results: Mean TFBUT for cats in this study was 8.9 (Ā± 4.8) s in the right eye (OD) and 8.1 (Ā± 4.6) s in the left eye (OS). No correlation existed between mean TFBUTs and mean STT values OD or OS.

Conjunctival swabs from seven cats (n = 9 eyes) tested positive via PCR for one of the above infectious agents. Blood samples from nine cats tested positive for FHV-1.

Mean TFBUTs for cats from which the DNA from FHV-1 was isolated from the blood were significantly lower than mean TFBUTs for cats from which no such DNA was isolated from the blood.

Conclusions in this study: the mean TFBUT in cats with conjunctivitis was significantly lower than previously established values for clinically healthy cats.

This supports the theory that qualitative tear film deficiency, and thus tear film instability, may play a role in the pathogenesis of feline conjunctivitis.

Qualitative tear film deficiency may predispose to the development of conjunctivitis or may occur secondarily to this condition.



Source: Lim, Christine C. & Cullen, Cheryl L. (2005): Schirmer tear test values and tear film break-up times in cats with conjunctivitis. In:
Veterinary Ophthalmology 8 (5), 305-310




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