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Tear film osmolality and electrolyte composition in healthy horses

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  • 1 Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.
  • | 2 Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.
  • | 3 Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To evaluate the tear film osmolality and electrolyte composition in healthy horses.

ANIMALS 15 healthy adult horses.

PROCEDURES Each horse was manually restrained, and an ophthalmic examination, which included slit-lamp biomicroscopy, indirect ophthalmoscopy, and a Schirmer tear test, was performed. Tear samples were collected from both eyes with microcapillary tubes 3 times at 5-minute intervals. The tear samples for each horse were pooled, and the osmolality and electrolyte concentrations were measured. The mean (SD) was calculated for each variable to establish preliminary guidelines for tear film osmolality and electrolyte composition in healthy horses.

RESULTS The mean (SD) tear film osmolality was 283.51 (9.33) mmol/kg, and the mean (SD) sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium concentrations were 134.75 (10), 16.3 (5.77), 3.48 (1.97), and 1.06 (0.42) mmol/L, respectively. The sodium concentration in the tear film was similar to that in serum, whereas the potassium concentration in the tear film was approximately 4.75 times that of serum.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results provided preliminary guidelines with which tear samples obtained from horses with keratopathies can be compared. Measurement of tear film osmolality in these horses was easy and noninvasive. The tear film concentration of divalent cations was greater than expected and was higher than the divalent cation concentrations in the tear films of rabbits and humans. These data may be clinically useful for the diagnosis and monitoring of hyperosmolar ocular surface disease in horses.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Ward (dward@utk.edu).