To explore the effect of time on grading corneal fluorescein and conjunctival lissamine green staining in dry eye disease (DED).
Photographs of 68 subjects with non-Sjogren’s DED (nSS DED) and 32 with Sjogren’s DED (SS DED) were taken of corneal fluorescein staining, then conjunctival lissamine green staining every 30 s for at least 5 min. Photographs of one randomly selected eye were then randomly ordered and graded on a scale from 0 to 5 (severe staining) by two clinicians, masked to both site and subject. The average time required to reach the maximum grade of staining (Gmax) was calculated.
The median time (upper and lower quartiles) to corneal fluorescein Gmax was 2.6 (1.3-5.3) minutes for nSS DED and 3.8 (2.6-5.4) minutes for SS DED, a statistically significant difference (Mann Whitney U test, p = 0.018). In contrast, the median time to the Gmax for lissamine green staining of the nasal and temporal conjunctiva was 0.5 (0.5-1.1 nasal, 0.5-0.8 temporal) minutes for nSS DED and 0.5 (0.5-0.8 nasal, 0.5-0.5 temporal) minutes for SS DED subjects, which was not statistically significant (p ≥ 0.383).
The time required to reach the maximum grade of corneal fluorescein staining, but not conjunctival lissamine green staining, varied widely and was significantly longer in subjects with Sjögren’s Syndrome. Early observation of corneal fluorescein staining can lead to under-grading, which may impact the diagnosis and assessment of treatment in DED. Further study of the best time to assess corneal fluorescein staining in various DED populations is warranted.

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