The Dry Eye Zone

Rebecca's Blog


Study: Dry eye worse while fasting?

This is very rarely studied… last time I had something on the blog was back in 2010, a study looking at tear proteins while fasting. In this study during the Ramadan fast, they found that inflammation and tear break-up scores worsened over the course of the Ramadan daytime-fasting.

If this looks familiar… I blogged about it during the ASCRS meeting last month where Dr Armstrong presented the data.

Association of Ramadan daytime fasting with ocular surface inflammation and dry eye. Armstrong BK et al, Int Ophthalmol. 2019 May 31.



Despite the widespread practice of fasting, there are no studies looking at ocular surface inflammation, specifically matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9) testing, during fasting. In this prospective study, we wanted to evaluate the effect of Ramadan fasting on the level of tear film MMP-9 as well as other standard indicators of dry eye disease.


Forty healthy patients without history of ocular disease were tested before and toward the end of Ramadan. Each patient was assessed at each timepoint for tear film MMP-9 positivity as measured by a commercially available test (InflammaDry; Quidel Corp., San Diego, CA, USA) which detects MMP-9 levels of more than 40 ng/ml. Ocular surface disease index (OSDI) scores, tear breakup time (TBUT), Schirmer I test (S1T) and corneal fluorescein staining (CFS) were also evaluated at each timepoint.


InflammaDry was positive in 10 patients (25%) prior to Ramadan and 21 patients (52.5%) during Ramadan fasting, and this change was statistically significant (p = 0.02). Mean TBUT decreased from 7 s prior to Ramadan to 5.3 s during Ramadan fasting, and this change was statistically significant (p = 0.01). OSDI, CFS and S1T did not show any statistically significant changes (p > 0.05 for all).


Ramadan fasting has a significant impact on TBUT and ocular surface inflammation detected by Inflamma Dry testing. Patients who suffer from dry eye disease and those who develop symptoms during Ramadan are advised to consult with a physician before or during Ramadan fasting.