Dry Eye Disease Treatment: New Antibody-Based Eye Drop Shows Promise

Existing treatments for dry eye disease have limited effects on certain people. But a team of researchers created a new eye drop that may offer the same benefits to all patients. 

Dry eye disease can cause dry areas on the cornea and lead to eye pain and sensitivity to light. Estimates show that there are nearly five million people living with the condition in the U.S., according to the National Eye Institute.

The new dry eye disease treatment, described in the journal The Ocular Surface, promises to help reduce the effects of dry eye disease, which could affect a patient’s quality of life. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago said the eye drop offers health benefits that existing medications failed to provide.

"There are currently only two approved drugs to treat dry eye, and they don't work for everyone, especially those with severe disease," Sandeep Jain, senior author of the study, said. 

To develop the eye drop, the researchers focused on the factors that contribute to severe cases of dry eye disease. They found that an immune cell called neutrophils plays an important role in the development of dry eye disease. 

The cell releases neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), which appear like webs on the surface of the cornea. NETs trap bacteria outside of cells to protect the eyes, Medical News Today reported.

However, in people with dry eye disease, NETs contribute to the production of autoantibodies that attack the body's own proteins. Researchers said the autoantibodies called anti-citrullinated protein autoantibodies (ACPAs) potentially lead to inflammation that make the eye condition difficult to treat in some cases. 

The team used the findings to produce the dry eye disease treatment. The eye drop contains antibodies that target ACPAs to reduce and prevent damage in the eyes. 

The researchers tested the treatment in humans with different variations of dry eye disease. Each participant used the eye drop twice per day for eight weeks. 

The team checked the patients’ corneal damage and the level of inflammation biomarkers on the surface of their eyes before, during and after the trial. Results showed that the antibody-based eye drop was effective in all patients who regularly used it as a treatment for dry eye disease. The patients reported reduced corneal damage and lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers compared to people who did not use the eye drop. 

"Participants in the trial who used the drops with pooled antibodies reported less eye discomfort, and their corneas were healthier," Jain said. "The data from this early clinical trial suggest that eye drops containing pooled antibodies may be safe and effective for treating dry eye disease, and we look forward to conducting larger randomized trials to definitively prove its efficacy." 

Eyes We've compiled this list of Amazon best sellers to bring you 14 vision care essentials for healthier eyes. Pixabay