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Present and future of the fight against dry eye syndrome

Women and young people: 2.0 eyes at risk. Present and future of the fight against dry eye syndrome.

  • Reddened, tired, burning eyes, causing discomfort under bright lights: these are the most common signs of a very frequent condition that is often triggered after a day spent at the computer, with smartphones, tablets or other mobile devices.
  • Women are more at risk due to hormonal changes that may worsen the syndrome, especially during pregnancy and after menopause.
  • Dompé, a biopharmaceutical company engaged in the Research & Development of innovative therapeutic solutions, reconfirms its commitment also in this area of ophthalmology.

Milano, 12 March 2015. We often take for granted the role of tears. However, they play a central and important role in the health of the eyes by keeping them well lubricated. When this natural mechanism, that should remain constantly active, does not work properly, the eye “dries out” leading to the so-called “dry eye syndrome”. This occurs especially in women, in the elderly and in those who suffer from allergies or are sensitive to atmospheric changes, for instance on windy days. But also navigating on the web, on a computer or smartphone, liking and sharing some posts, reading an e-book or challenging a friend to the latest social game – habits that are an integral part of the daily life of the 2.0 man–may trigger this condition.

“The dry eye symptoms are quite typical ” - explains Prof. Stefano Bonini,Director of the Ophthalmology Faculty of Campus Bio-Medico in Rome. They range from a burning sensation in the eyes, to the perception of having a foreign body, to redness and fatigue that are felt when we spend a long time staring at a screen. Women are particularly at risk, especially after menopause or during pregnancy because of hormonal changes, but so are elderly people especially if taking certain medications such as anti-depressants, diuretics or cortisone-derivatives”.

The frequency of dry eye syndrome is twice as likely to occur in women than in men1, because of the hormonal changes that women undergo. Some hormones, in fact, contribute to the stimulation of tear production; profound changes in the hormonal profile – as during pregnancy, menopause or post-menopause when oestrogen therapies are often administered – may cause a reduction in the natural production of tears2.

Some environmental factors also contribute to the development of this pathology, such as air pollution or a prolonged stay in air conditioned areas. Although not serious, this condition can severely affect the quality of life and lead to more serious illnesses.“Tears are fundamental for the health of the eyes - continues Prof. Bonini. By spreading across the eye surface through eyelid blinking, they ensure the lubrication of the eyes. And it is thanks to the tear film that the eyes are protected from any foreign substances and that the cornea receives the necessary nutrients. For these reasons it is essential today to pay close attention to the onset of symptoms typical of this pathology, so that the specialist can promptly and appropriately intervene, restoring the stability of the tear film which must always have watery-, fat- and mucosa-type components. For this reason, new treatments are currently under development and in the future will allow for a better response to patients’ needs that are not completely met at this time”.

In the ophthalmology area, innovative research is an indispensable element for the development of new therapeutic solutions. Part of this dynamics is the commitment of the Dompé Group, which in the future aims at providing the most innovative solutions for the treatment of dry eye syndrome. “We decided to focus on Research and Development within the ophthalmic area, developing and fine-tuning the recombinant human Nerve Growth Factor, a molecule that is in a trial phase also in patients with moderate to severe dry eye syndrome - explains Eugenio Aringhieri, CEO of the Dompé Group. This is another area of our work where we are researching new treatments. In particular, Lubricina, a lubricant naturally present in the body, is currently being evaluated in patients with dry eyes. Another evidence that research can open new therapeutic paths that are unexplored so far”.

While waiting for news, for the time being some simple rules to keep in mind to reduce the risk of dry eye: first of all, we must pay attention to environmental pollution and cigarette smoke which may affect the lipid component of the tears, thus reducing the efficacy of their lubricant action. If working in an office, it is better not to exaggerate with the air conditioning: this reduces environmental humidity and also limits the quantities of tear fluid. Finally, attention should be paid to the use of computers, smartphones and tablets: an excessive amount of time spent in front of a screen and the consequent reduced blinking increase the evaporation of the tear fluid, thus fostering the onset of eye disorders.

1 Fonte:2007 Report of the International Dry Eye Workshop (DEWS)

2 Fonte: Schaumberg DA, Buring JE, Sullivan DA, Dana MR, Hormone replacement therapy and dry eye syndrome, JAMA 2001;286:2114-9.