A recent study suggests there may be relief for dry eye sufferers. Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute found promise in introducing regenerative cells to the gland responsible for tear production.
The lacrimal gland is an almond-shaped gland found in the upper-outer portion of each eye orbit. These glands are responsible for secreting tears which nourish, cleanse and lubricate the eyes. When the lacrimal gland is unable to produce a sufficient amount of tears, the eyes become irritated and dry.
Millions of Americans suffer from the condition known as dry eyes.
In the study, researchers inserted endogenous progenitor cells in the lacrimal glands of mice with Sjorgen’s syndrome, an autoimmune condition which causes dry eyes. Endogenous progenitor cells are similar to stem cells.
Further research is needed, but the study found that the lacrimal gland produced more tears in mice. This research provides hope that the progenitor cells were able to transform into lacrimal cells which secrete tears. The next step for researchers is to apply what they have learned from the study of mice to humans.
Scientists and ophthalmologists are hopeful that they will have more options and relief for those living with dry eyes.