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Use of Polyurethane Minisponges to Collect Human Tear Fluid

López-Cisternas, Juan Lic. M.T. Oph.*†; Castillo-Díaz, Jessica Lic. M.T. Oph.*†; Traipe-Castro, Leonidas MD, Spec. Oph.; López-Solís, Remigio O. Bioch.*

doi: 10.1097/01.ico.0000183531.25201.0d
Clinical Sciences

Purpose: To characterize a method of tear collection based on the use of amphiphilic polyurethane absorbing minisponges.

Methods: Tear fluid was collected from 17 healthy volunteers. A preweighed polyurethane dry minisponge was laid on the margin of the lower eyelid. Once wet (5-10 minutes), the fluid was transferred to a preweighed Eppendorf tube after squeezing the sponge by centrifugation. The amount of fluid absorbed and fluid recovered were determined by reweighing the sponge and the tube after absorption and centrifugation steps, respectively. The fluid was qualitatively characterized by electrophoretic polypeptide profiling in Coomassie blue-stained SDS-polyacrylamide gels.

Results: Per eye, 14.6 ± 5.3 μL tear fluid was collected. That volume was about 90% of the fluid absorbed by polyurethane minisponges, almost doubling the fraction recovered from other more hydrophilic absorbing polymers. Major bands characterizing the electrophoretic profile of this fluid were those of 79, 66, 27, 18, and 14 kd. This profile was indistinguishable from that of tear fluid aspirated into glass microcapillaries. Tear fluid collected simultaneously from both eyes displayed the same profiles. Successive tear samples from a single eye showed the same profile except for the 66-kd band, which increased steadily as collection proceeded. Tear donors rarely complained of discomfort.

Conclusions: Tear collection by absorbing polyurethane minisponges is highly advantageous in efficiency (recovery) and reproducibility (invariant electrophoretic polypeptide profiles). Tear donor comfort, simultaneous bilateral collection, and collections from several donors at once are additional major advantages of this collection method in studies involving single subjects and populations in health and disease.

From the *Program of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Medicine, ICBM, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile; †School of Medical Technology, Section of Ophthalmology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile; and ‡Department of Ophthalmology, University Hospital Dr. J.J. Aguirre, Faculty of Medicine, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile.

Received for publication March 29, 2005; accepted July 22, 2005.

Reprints: Remigio O. López-Solís, Independencia 1027, P.O. Box 70061, Santiago 7, Chile (e-mail:

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.