A team of researchers based in the Tokyo University of Science have published their most recent study exploring a viable treatment for those suffering from Dry Eye Disease.
The latest breakthrough came when scientists in the Japanese university were successful in transplanting bioengineered lacrimal ducts into adult mice.
The ducts were accepted by the nervous system of the mice and functioned normally when stimulated, which could mean regeneration in humans to treat dry eye disease could be possible.
What is Dry Eye Disease?
A shortage of tears causes Dry Eye Disease and is attributed to the lacrimal glands not functioning correctly.
Located just below the eyebrow, underneath the outer orbital rim bone, these glands produce the all important salty tears that keep your eyes moist.
Chronic dry eyes can severely impact on a person’s quality of life, and up until now, treatment has revolved around the use of eye drops and specialized protective eyewear.
How are tears made?
Tears flow from the tear glands through tiny ducts and are made up of three main components: mucous, oil and water.
Oil: The meibomian gland lines the edge of your eyelids and produces oil to help prevent tears from evaporating.
Mucous: Microscopic cells called goblets found in the conjunctiva on the underside of your eyelid produces mucous that helps coat the surface of the eye.
Water: More like a saline solution, the ‘water’ that makes up tears contains nutrients that are important for healthy eye function.
Blinking to keep eyes moist
On average you will blink up to 15 times per minute and when you blink, the eyelid spreads the tear film evenly across your eye’s surface. Excess moisture is drained via openings found at the inner corners of the upper and lower eyelids.
These extra tears are emptied into the lacrimal sac and then into to the nasolacrimal duct connected to the nasal passage – which is why your nose runs when you cry sometimes!
More research needed
While the news from this latest study is positive, more research will need to be carried out into the viability of applying this procedure to humans suffering from dry eye disease.
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