Inter‐ and intra‐individual variability of non‐invasive tear break‐up time in Hong Kong Chinese

Brian Brown, Hie Hua Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Non‐invasive tear break‐up time (NITBUT) has been proposed as a measure of tear film integrity which is superior to the more commonly used tear break‐up time (TBUT), since it does not alter the volume or the physicochemical properties of the tear layer by the addition of fluorescein. We measured NITBUT by measuring the time taken for distortions or discontinuities to appear in the reflected image of a grid pattern which covered about 80 per cent of the corneal surface. NITBUT measures were made 100 times on seven Hong Kong Chinese subjects with up to 20 consecutive measures being made on a single day. We also measured NITBUT on one occasion on an unselected population of 52 Hong Kong Chinese subjects. NITBUT shows a skewed distribution in all subjects, with many shorter values and some extremely long values. There are statistically significant variations in NITBUT from day to day, and from subject to subject. The group of 52 subjects also had a skewed NITBUT distribution with many short values and some very long values. The arithmetic mean does not adequately represent NITBUT data, either for individual subjects or for this group of subjects. As many as five to eight measures may be necessary to gain a stable estimate of the NITBUT and stability of the measure is improved if extreme values are omitted. We recommend the use of nonparametric statistics to compare NITBUT values from day to day in or between subjects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-23
Number of pages9
JournalClinical and Experimental Optometry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1994


  • Chinese
  • non‐invasive tear break‐up time
  • variability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Optometry


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