Tears are made up of a complex chemistry of salts, lipids, and various other compounds. However, they can be broken down into three basic layers: Mucin, Aqueous, and Lipid. Any imbalance of the chemistry of these layers causes clinical problems but they can difficult to determine without a battery of time consuming tests and examinations. Tears that are in balance also crystallize into beautiful snow flake like patterns (tear ferns) when they dry. However, tear film imbalances cause distinct ferning patterns. These patterns can identify which layer is out of balance.
The Rapid Tear Ferning Camera works by having the operator use a micro-capillary to collect a small amount of tears. Then the sample is spread onto a glass slide within the camera chamber. Once the chamber is closed and turned on it heats and quickly desiccates the tears for rapid crystallization. The device connects via USB and the software makes capturing a picture very easy.