February 1, 2023

Taylor Daily Press

Complete News World

Too little attention to dry eyes: it’s more harmful than you think

Dry eye sounds like a harmless disease, but it can cause damage to the cornea. Researchers have identified the genes and proteins that play a role in eye diseases and hope to develop a better treatment plan.

Every person sometimes suffers from dry eyes, for example due to the operation of the air conditioner. Only when it is chronic are we talking about a medical condition. People who always suffer from dry eyes are more likely to have corneal damage. when studying mice in the laboratory affiliate Washington University A team of medical scientists has discovered exactly which proteins are produced by stem cells, whose mission is to regenerate the cornea. In mice with dry eye, the so-called SPARC protein is not sufficiently present in the cornea.

The SPARC gene was also shown to function (gene expression) in these mice. The next step is to use this knowledge to develop a new treatment for dry eye and prevent future damage to patients’ corneas.

Especially women and the elderly
People experience dry eyes when there is not enough “lubrication” with normal tears. Dry eyes are a common condition. About one in ten people suffer from it, especially women and the elderly. Patients use ‘artificial tears’ – eye drops or eye gels – to keep the eyes lubricated, but this is often ineffective. When the eyes are dry, there is a greater chance of damage to the cornea.

We have medicines, but they don’t help enough for most people. They work really well in only 10 to 15 percent of patients, explains Professor of Ophthalmology Rajendra Apte. “In this study, we were able to identify genes that are essential for eye health. These genes, which look different in people with dry eyes than in healthy eyes, are potential targets in future treatment plans. Tens of millions of people around the world suffer from eye pain.” and blurred vision due to complications and injuries associated with dry eye. Our goal is to better treat or even prevent these injuries.”

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Stem cells and gene expression
The researchers analyzed gene expression by fixing corneal stem cells in laboratory mice to light. They found that in mice with dry eyes, the SPARC gene was activated. The team also discovered that a higher concentration of SPARC in the eye was associated with improved healing of eye injuries.

“These stem cells are important and resilient and are a big reason why corneal transplants work so well,” Apte says. “If SPARC treatment does not work well enough to activate these cells in people with dry eye, in the future it may be possible to transplant genetically modified stem cells into the periphery (the area between the cornea and the white of the eye) to prevent corneal damage in people with dry eyes.” Dry eye patients.

What are dry eyes?
People experience dry eyes when the eyes produce too little tear fluid. Often there are problems with the lacrimal gland. In addition, the tear film, which is the thin layer of moisture on the eye, may evaporate too quickly.

A burning sensation may then occur, vision may become blurred when driving a car or reading a book, and the eyes may turn red and secrete mucus. Dehydration causes irritation of the cornea and mucous membrane and often produces a large amount of tear fluid of a different composition, which cannot perform the normal functions of the tear fluid.

There are many known causes for the onset or worsening of dry eyes, including hormonal diseases, such as a thyroid disorder, a lacrimal gland disorder (such as Schurgen’s disease), allergies or aging.

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Treating dry eyes is difficult because the cause is not always known or because the lacrimal gland is severely damaged, for example. Therefore, the goal of treatment is often limited to reducing complaints.
Artificial tears, whether they are eye drops or eye gels, can help lubricate the tear film on the cornea. Special glasses that completely protect the eye (covered glasses) can work against dehydration. It is even possible to close the tear drainage ducts in the nose with so-called puncta plugs, so that the tear fluid cannot escape. But a better treatment, which puts an end to dry eyes once and for all, would be a godsend for patients.