Purpose To determine the intra-observer and inter-observer reliability of a novel ocular staining score among trained ophthalmologists. Design Reliability analysis within a prospective, observational, multicenter cohort study. Methods Those enrolled in the National Institutes of Health-funded Sjögren's International Collaborative Clinical Alliance (SICCA) who presented for follow-up at the University of California San Francisco, Aravind Eye Hospital, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Pennsylvania were included. Study participants were graded using the ocular staining score by at least 2 masked SICCA-trained ophthalmologists. The primary outcome for this study was the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) for the total ocular staining score. ICCs were also calculated for tear break-up time (TBUT) and conjunctival and corneal staining. Results Total ocular staining score had an ICC of 0.91 for the right eye (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.85-0.96) and 0.90 for the left eye (95% CI 0.83-0.97). Corneal staining (right eye 0.86, 95% CI 0.76-0.93, left eye 0.90, 95% CI 0.81-0.95) and conjunctival staining (right eye 0.87, 95% CI 0.80-0.93, left eye 0.85, 95% CI 0.75-0.93) demonstrated excellent agreement. The ICC for TBUT was slightly lower (right eye 0.77, 95% CI 0.64-0.89; left eye 0.81, 95% CI 0.68-0.90). Conclusions Previous studies have shown that the ocular staining score is correlated with other diagnostic components of Sjögren syndrome. In this study, we demonstrate high reliability in grading among trained ophthalmologists, completing the validation of this test.
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