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Dry eye is a condition wherein a person doesn’t have enough tears to lubricate the eye. With the chronic lack of sufficient lubrication, moisture, and nourishment on the eye, it can lead to eye irritation, inflammation, and eventually, scarring.
Also dubbed as dry eye syndrome, or dry eye disease, the condition is common and often a chronic problem, especially in older people. Commonly, doctors prescribe artificial tears to provide relief for dry eye syndrome.
Now, a team of researchers at the University of Illinois in Chicago had identified the presence of an antibody, known as anti-citrullinated protein autoantibodies (ACPA), in human tears. This is the first time that researchers have shown that patients with dry eye disease experienced relief and decreased signs and symptoms of the illness when they tried a new eye drop treatment.
Eye drops with antibodies show promise for dry eye disease
In the study published in the journal The Ocular Surface, the team used pooled human antibodies that target ACPAs on the patients and has shown efficacy in battling dry eye syndrome. Though the study is still in its early stage clinical trial, it shows promise and may lead to the formulation of a commercially-available and effective eye drops for patients.
Dry eye is commonly caused by certain abnormalities in the tear fluid. The condition leads to dry areas on the cornea, the eye surface and the transparent outer layer of the eye. Gradually, if the lack of tears continues, it can lead to disabling eye pain and sensitivity to light in worse cases.
Neutrophils and dry eye disease
In a past study, the researchers found that DNA strands force out from neutrophils, a form of white blood cells, to create webs on the eye surface, which is affected by dry eye disease. As a result, inflammation ensues.
In the present study, they were able to identify that ACPAs also cause eye inflammation, hence, contributing to the formation of these webs. The good news is, the new eye drops they’ve formulated can help reduce inflammation and treat dry eye disease, by cutting the cycle of inflammation.