A recent study involves a novel enzyme-based cure for severe dry eye disease. The clinical trial has shown a notable improvement in decreased discomfort in patients suffering from severe dry eye disease after using the enzyme-based eye drops.
What Do Enzymes Do With Dry Eyes?
Usually, enzymes found in tears clear up debris on the eyes to relieve the cornea. These enzymes are called DNase. However, there is not enough DNase in patients with dry eye disease to clear debris on the cornea.
The study distinguished eye drops with a biosynthetic DNase enzyme with eye drops that did not include DNase. According to Dr. Jain, an ophthalmology and visual sciences professor at the University of Illinois and principal investigator of the study, participants in the who used the eye drops containing DNase proclaimed less eye discomfort and showed healthier corneas in the eye examination.
Dry Eye Disease Explained
Severe dry eye disease burdens its prey more than just an occasional feeling of dryness. According to Dr. Jain, this disease can seriously compromise the quality of life of the patient and can lead to vision loss.
The problem with the eyes of patients suffering from dry eye disease is that they lack enough DNase enzyme in their tears to sweep up the debris that accumulates on the transparent outer layer of which we call cornea. In turn, their eyes become dry and itchy with a burning sensation caused by irritation. The disease is identified by an irregular tear production and the inflammation of the cornea. This leads to severe eye pain that can be disabling.
Dr. Jain explains that several things occur in dry eye disease. Medically speaking, the white blood cells called neutrophils accumulate on the surface of the eye. These neutrophils excrete DNA which forms webs on the cornea termed as neutrophil extracellular traps. This causes inflammation of the ocular surface and attracts more neutrophils in a ruthless cycle.
Data on the Clinical Trial
The collected data from the early stages of the clinical trial implies that DNase eye drops may actually be safe and effective in treating severe dry eyes. Researchers are looking forward to conducting a bigger trial to prove its efficacy.
The FDA currently approves the use of DNase in treating cystic fibrosis and is experimental in treating dry eyes. While the early clinical results appear promising, researchers stress that more research is needed to confirm safety and efficacy. Currently, there are only two approved drugs to ease dry eyes but they do not work for everyone. Those who suffer from severe dry eyes cannot rely solely on these two approved drugs which is why this new treatment is crucial.