The analysis of tear constituents at point-of-care settings has a potential for early diagnosis of ocular disorders such as dry eye disease, low-cost screening, and surveillance of at-risk subjects. However, current minimally-invasive rapid tear analysis systems for point-of-care settings have been limited to assessment of osmolarity or inflammatory markers and cannot differentiate between dry eye subclassifications. Here, we demonstrate a portable microfluidic system that allows quantitative analysis of electrolytes in the tear fluid that is suited for point-of-care settings. The microfluidic system consists of a capillary tube for sample collection, a reservoir for sample dilution, and a paper-based microfluidic device for electrolyte analysis. The sensing regions are functionalized with fluorescent crown ethers, o-acetanisidide, and seminaphtorhodafluor that are sensitive to mono- and divalent electrolytes, and their fluorescence outputs are measured with a smartphone readout device. The measured sensitivity values of Na+, K+, Ca2+ ions and pH in artificial tear fluid were matched with the known ion concentrations within the physiological range. The microfluidic system was tested with samples having different ionic concentrations, demonstrating the feasibility for the detection of early-stage dry eye, differential diagnosis of dry eye sub-types, and their severity staging.
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