Project Highlights

Dry Eye Disease Management 

Principal Investigator 

Associate Head of School of Optometry, PolyU; Associate Professor, School of Optometry, PolyU
Dr. William NGO
Assistant Professor, School of Optometry and Vision Science, UW

Aim of this project 

Dry eye disease is a common condition that occurs when your tears aren't able to provide adequate lubrication for your eyes. Tears can be inadequate and unstable for many reasons. The ultimate aim of this project is to better understand dry eye disease (DED) using advanced clinical instruments and to seek more effective dry eye treatment and management with multidisciplinary teams in Hong Kong and Canada.


The research team is conducting a large-scale project to study the prevalence of dry eye disease in the Hong Kong population across different age groups. They have also translated a Chinese version of the dry eye questionnaire and are in the process of validating its potential clinical usage with collaborators from Tianjin, Taiwan, and Singapore. For laboratory research, they are establishing a cell-based model in testing the effect of various DED treatments, including Traditional Chinese Medicine.  


1. Could you please share ground-breaking experiments in your research?

Apart from the state-of-the-art clinical tools, including Corneal Confocal Microscopy, non-invasive keratography and Quantum molecular resonance that are being used in our study, microliters of tear biofluid samples are also collected and stored for advanced molecular tests using high-resolution nanoLC mass spectrometry. Our established technique enabled the simultaneous identification and quantification of over a thousand tear proteins using roughly one-hundredth of a teardrop. Our conference presentation of this optimized protocol was awarded “The Best Poster Presenters from Asia” in the Human Proteome Organization (HUPO) world Congress.         


2. What are the challenges in your research?

The pandemic, especially the recent fifth wave of Covid-19 surge in Hong Kong has delayed our subject recruitment as our subjects involve many teenagers and the elderly.    


3. Can you share any data or major findings in this stage?

The analysis is yet to be complete but tear quality and quantity seem to be significantly poorer in the elderly. The subjective and objective findings do not always correlate well, as previously reported in the literature. However, the prevalence of severe dry eye in the general public in Hong Kong may not be as high as we expected. We also identified issues in using various clinical equipment for DED evaluation which may lead to inaccurate clinical decisions. The finding has been accepted for a presentation at The American Academy of Optometry's annual meeting at San Diego, US (2022).


4. What is the impact of the result? How is your research contributing to improving vision/ocular health as well as changing lives for the better?

Dry eye is one of the most common ocular disorders. Yet, it is a complicated condition that a standardized clinical examination workflow and a well-established treatment protocol are still lacking. Using the most advanced diagnostic tools available to date, in combining sensitive molecular tests, we aim to develop better clinical protocols in DED examination and provide evidence-based treatment to the public.