Encyclopedia of Ophthalmology

Living Edition
| Editors: Ursula Schmidt-Erfurth, Thomas Kohnen

Goblet Cells, Mucin Tear Secretion by

  • Daniel Montenegro
  • Nadeem Fatteh
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-35951-4_821-1



Cells recognized as a source of mucus for the tear-film complex.


Conjunctival goblet cells appear in histological sections as oval-shaped cells containing rich amounts of intracytoplasmic mucus (Doughty 2012). Cytoplasmic staining is characteristically periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) positive, reflecting the high density of glycosylated glycoproteins within these cells (Doughty 2012). Goblet cell location varies depending on their degree of maturation with more mature cells residing near the apical surface of the conjunctival epithelium; the distribution of goblet cells is related to differences in exposure, with cell numbers being higher in the superior and inferior bulbar conjunctiva compared to the interpalpebral conjunctiva (Doughty 2012).


Goblet cells comprise the main source of mucus secreted into the tear-film complex (Inatomi et al. 1996; Doughty 2012; Gipson 2004). Mucus secretion is influenced by environmental and...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Doughty MJ (2012) Goblet cells of the normal human bulbar conjunctiva and their assessment by impression cytology sampling. Ocul Surf 10:149–169CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Gipson IK (2004) Distribution of mucins at the ocular surface. Exp Eye Res 78:379–388CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Inatomi T et al (1996) Expression of secretory mucin genes by human conjunctival epithelia. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 37:1684–1692PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Plugfelder SC (2011) Tear dysfunction and the cornea: LXVII Edward Jackson memorial lecture. Am J Ophthalmol 152:900–909CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Sangwan VS, Tseng SCG (2001) New perspectives in ocular surface disorders. An integrated approach for diagnosis and management. Indian J Ophthalmol 49:153–168PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of OphthalmologyKresge Eye Institute, Wayne State UniversityDetroitUSA