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  • New Dry Eye Treatment is a Tear-Jerker

    By Susanne Medeiros
    Published Jul. 21, 2017

    For years, patients suffering from dry eye have had few options. Most simply purchased artificial tears and hoped they got better. But scientists are coming up with new therapies that do more than just relieve symptoms. 

    Earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first medical device for the treatment of dry eye. It's called TrueTear and it gives patients a new, drug free alternative to lubricating eye drops and topical ointments. 

    TrueTear is a handheld stimulator that comes with daily disposable tips that are inserted into the nose. The device stimulates nerves in the nose to produce tears. The reaction is like what occurs when you cut into an onion. Except with onions, a chemical compound is what stimulates the eyes’ glands so they release tears.

    Think sticking a device in your nose to relieve dry eye sounds weird and uncomfortable? Ophthalmologist Richard Lewis, MD, said that patients testing the device were so pleased with the results, they refused to give it back.

    Another benefit is that the patient can control the device. The patient determines the strength of the stimulation and how often they treat themselves.

    Tears are vital to your vision. Healthy eyes are lubricated with tears that are a mixture of oils, water, proteins, and mucus. The protective film this fluid creates is necessary for clear vision. Without it, eyes dry out and become vulnerable to painful abrasions of the cornea. Corneal abrasions can distort vision. 

    The artificial tears that come out of an eyedropper aren’t exactly the same as natural tears. But tears produced with TrueTear are the body’s own tears. These tears have all the vital components of natural tears, including proteins and mucus. That’s good news for the 15 percent of the population who suffer from dry eye.