Purpose: To evaluate changes in clinical outcomes, inflammatory cytokine levels, and tear osmolarity in the tears of patients with moderate to severe dry eye syndrome before and after the application of topical 1% methylprednisolone. Materials and Methods: Thirty-two patients with moderate to severe dry eye unresponsive to previous aqueous enhancement therapy were enrolled. Five patients were lost to follow up, and twenty-seven patients were eligible for analysis. Patients were instructed to apply topical 1% methylprednisolone four times per day, as well as to continue applying their current therapy of preservative-free 0.1% sodium hyaluronate four times per day. Corneal and conjunctival staining scores, tear film breakup time (TFBUT), Schirmer test, and tear osmolarity were assessed at baseline, 4 weeks, and 8 weeks. Tear samples were collected at every visit for cytokine analysis. Results: Corneal and conjunctival staining scores and TFBUT showed significant improvement at 4 (p<0.001, <0.001, <0.001 respectively) and 8 (p<0.001, <0.001, <0.001 respectively) weeks. Tear osmolarity decreased significantly at 8 weeks (p=0.008). Interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-8, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 were significantly decreased at 8 weeks compared with those at baseline (p=0.041, 0.001, 0.008 respectively). Conclusion: Short-term treatment with topical 1% methylprednisolone not only improved clinical outcomes, but also decreased tear osmolarity and cytokine levels. By measuring the changes in cytokine levels and tear osmolarity, we could objectively evaluate the anti-inflammatory effects of topical methylprednisolone applied in the treatment of patients with moderate to severe dry eye syndrome.
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