Dry eye sufferers will soon have a drug-free solution

November 13, 2017

A study of dry eye sufferers who inserted a handheld neurostimulator device in their nose to make their eyes produce more tears experienced significant relief from their disease, according to research presented today at AAO 2017, the 121st Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

The device gives patients a new, drug-free alternative to lubricating eye drops and topical ointments. As important, this new route to dry eye relief produces a complete tear, containing all the elements in natural tears. When inserted into the nose, the neurostimulator produces the same reaction as when you cut into an onion. Except with onions, a chemical compound is what stimulates the eyes' glands so they release tears.

More than 20 million Americans suffer from . In fact, one out of every four patients report symptoms of dry eye, making it one of the most common conditions seen by eye care practitioners.

Researchers at the Cincinnati Eye Institute wanted to test the safety and effectiveness of the device, so they asked 97 patients with moderate to severe dry eye to use TrueTear for 180 days. A test that determines whether the eye is producing enough tears to keep it moist was performed in patients' eyes before and after nasal stimulation. Tests showed patients' tear level was significantly higher after nasal stimulation. Patients reported that it was easy to use and they suffered no side effects.

Tears are vital to vision. Healthy eyes are lubricated with tears that are a mixture of oils, water, proteins, and mucus. The protective film this fluid creates supports clear vision. Without it, eyes dry out and become vulnerable to painful abrasions of the cornea. Corneal abrasions can distort vision.

For years, patients suffering from dry eye have had few options. Most of them simply purchased artificial and hoped they got better. However, scientists are developing new therapies that do more than just relieve symptoms.

Michael Ackermann, a biomedical engineer from Stanford Biodesign, a training program in medical-technology innovation and development, came up with the idea for the neurostimulator after he was asked to look for medical needs in eye clinics, and to come up with a solution. Ackerman quickly realized that dry eye represents a huge medical need, with no optimal treatments. Eventually, he designed TrueTear.

"I believe this will be a very beneficial treatment option for our dry eye ," said lead researcher, Edward J. Holland, M.D., director of Cornea Services at Cincinnati Eye Institute and professor of clinical ophthalmology at the University of Cincinnati. "It's an innovative technology that effectively and safely increases tear production."

Explore further: Why do onions make you cry?

Related Stories

Why do onions make you cry?

June 26, 2017
According to the National Onion Association (yes, that's a thing), approximately 170 countries grow onions, and it's estimated that 9.2 million acres of onions are harvested annually around the world. Onions are low in calories ...

Dry eye is common and easily treated

July 18, 2016
Our eyes can become dry and uncomfortable due to a number of things - irritants in the environment, age, gender, certain medications or medical conditions - that can leave them feeling gritty, burning, itchy, and often feeling ...

'Substance P' in tears—a noninvasive test for diabetes-related nerve damage?

July 5, 2017
Levels of a nerve cell signaling molecule called substance P—measured in tear samples—might be a useful marker of diabetes-related nerve damage (neuropathy), suggests a study in the July issue of Optometry and Vision ...

New insight may lead to better detection and treatment of autoimmune disorder Sjögren's syndrome

May 4, 2016
The autoimmune disorder Sjögren's syndrome is often overlooked or misdiagnosed because the symptoms are similar to other conditions. Its characteristic symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth, and reduced tear production is ...

Neural stimulation offers treatment for 'dry eye'

December 10, 2015
Scientists have developed a device that electronically stimulates tear production, which will offer hope to sufferers of dry eye syndrome, one of the most common eye diseases in the world.

Contact lenses: A molecule from pig stomach mucus prevents corneal damage

August 1, 2017
After a long day of working at the computer, scratchy contact lenses are not only painful, over longer periods of time they can also damage ocular tissue. Relief may be in sight from a natural mucus component referred to ...

Recommended for you

Research reveals biological mechanism of a leading cause of childhood blindness

November 16, 2017
Scientists at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute (VTCRI) have revealed the pathology of cells and structures stricken by optic nerve hypoplasia, a leading cause of childhood blindness in developed nations.

Genetic treatment for blindness may soon be reality

November 11, 2017
Patients who had lost their sight to an inherited retinal disease could see well enough to navigate a maze after being treated with a new gene therapy, according to research presented today at AAO 2017, the 121st Annual Meeting ...

Study finds donor corneas can be safely preserved for longer period

November 10, 2017
Results from a large, national clinical trial show that corneal donor tissue can be safely stored for 11 days without negatively impacting the success of transplantation surgery to restore vision in people with diseases of ...

Exploring the genetics of glaucoma and retinal development

November 10, 2017
Guillermo Oliver, PhD, the Thomas D. Spies Professor of Lymphatic Metabolism, recently published two studies related to the eye, one on retinal formation and the other on the genetics behind glaucoma.

Scientists discover potential treatment to stop glaucoma in its tracks

November 6, 2017
Vision scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Toronto have discovered that naturally occurring molecules known as lipid mediators have the potential to halt the progression of glaucoma, ...

New focus on correcting refractive vision

October 25, 2017
While doctors take delight in solving the common issue of refractive vision error by prescribing eye glasses, Flinders University researchers have found that many patients are upset with this solution and claim it affects ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.