To determine intra- and interobserver reliability of a fluorescein stain–based tear film breakup time (TFBUT) test as performed in a clinical environment with and without administration of a topical anesthetic.
21 privately owned dogs.
A randomized study design was used. Two independent observers that commonly perform the TFBUT test in clinical practice read the same description of TFBUT. Observers performed TFBUT testing for each dog before and after topical administration of 0.5% proparacaine solution in 4 testing periods with a 1-hour interval between periods. Intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) analysis was used to assess inter- and intraobserver test reliability. Linear mixed models were used to assess the main effects of testing period, observer, eye, and presence of ophthalmic disorders and their interactions on TFBUT.
Mean TFBUT measurements performed by observer 1 and observer 2 were 5.9 seconds and 8.6 seconds, respectively, when adjusted for other effects in the model. Intraobserver ICC was poor for one observer and moderate for the other. Interobserver ICC was poor without use of topical anesthetic and slightly lower when anesthetic was used. Observer and testing period were each significantly associated with TFBUT; the measurements decreased and were more variable after multiple applications of fluorescein stain and proparacaine.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE
Results suggested tear film stability is negatively affected by topical administration of 0.5% proparacaine solution and repeated applications of fluorescein stain. The TFBUT test as performed in this study had poor to moderate reliability.