“Not a dry eye in the house!”
If only eye care could provide an equivalent to this theatrical idiom for our dry eye patients, particularly at this ‘drying’ …and trying time of year. It has been over a decade since the last release of any prescribed drop for dry eye treatment but thankfully, several new exciting treatment approaches are on the horizon. Dry eye disease affects over 25 million people and is a group of conditions where the eye does not produce an adequate volume of tears or when the tear’s consistency causes poor distribution over the eye and evaporation. Advancing age, certain medications or medical conditions, eye diseases, contact lens wear or the environment are all potential underlying factors. Typically, patients present to the office with comfort issues like gritty, sore, burning eyes. Often vision may be affected as well, making it more difficult to perform visual activities such as computer use and extended reading.
New Dry Eye Treatment Approved
Last July, the FDA approved Xiidra which is the first drop approved to treat both the signs and symptoms of dry eye and is currently awaiting approval for use in Canada. While Xiidra addresses the inflammatory component underlying many types of dry eye, the discovery of a protein in our tears that regulates our base level of tears is currently being synthesized and developed as LacriPep. Its eventual approval will serve as a totally new type of ‘protein replacement therapy’ for the eye. This same type of therapy now exists with other well-proven treatments using growth hormones and insulin.
A novel (albeit wordy) device under development, called the Intranasal Tear Neurostimulator Device activates a specific nerve inside the nasal cavity to increase tear production. A single use of the device is reported to provide about four hours of symptomatic relief. While neurostimulation has been around a long time to treat movement disorders and aid in pain management, it is also entirely new to the area of dry eye treatment.
In clinical practice, we currently have many options for dry eye management that include in-office treatments, home treatments as well as a regimen of prescribed and non-prescribed drops to properly address each patient’s dry eye profile.
The addition of new medications, devices, and procedures will allow those of us in eye care, the opportunity to further improve patient’s comfort, quality of life and… future of vision.