Dry eye before and after therapy with hydroxypropyl methylcellulose: Ultrastructural and cytochemical study in 20 patients

P. Versura, M. C. Maltarello, F. Siecher, R. Caramazza, R. Laschi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We have utilized hydroxypropyl methylcellulose in the therapy of 20 patients suffering from dry eye in the initial stage. The effects of the substance have been evaluated both from a clinical and a morphological standpoint. In particular, transmission and scanning electron microscopy were applied to investigate the ultrastructural features of the conjunctival epithelium before and after treatment. In addition, lectin cytochemistry was carried out to analyse semiquantitatively the presence of glycoconjugates in the conjunctival mucus produced by goblet and non-goblet epithelial cells. Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose did not improve the tear film stability as demonstrated by the clinical tests. The normal surface of the conjunctival epithelium did not appear recovered as well. Only a minimal increase in the density of the second mucus system vesicles was observed. From a cytochemical point of view, the content of glycosidic residues appeared altered in dry-eye patients both before and after treatment. This alteration can lead to changes in the physical and functional properties of the mucus, impairing its role as a surfactant. We conclude that the common treatment by means of lubrificant-like substances palliates the dryness condition. The search for a drug which reintegrates the correct composition of the conjunctival mucus should be seriously considered as a valid alternative.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-162
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1989



  • Dry eye
  • Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose
  • Lectin cytochemistry
  • Scanning electron microscopy
  • Transmission electron microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems

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