Novel device brings tears to treat ‘dry eye’ syndrome

New York, Dec 11 ( IANS) Scientists have developed a device that electronically stimulates tear production, which will offer hope to sufferers of dry eye syndrome, one of the most common eye afflictions in the world.

The researchers discovered the afferent neural pathway — the neural pathway from sensory neurons to the brain which activates the reflex tearing — offered an even more efficient way to enhance tear production.

The device, 16 mm long, 3-4 mm wide and 1-2 mm thick, was implanted beneath the inferior lacrimal gland in a rabbit’s eyes. It was wireless and increased the generation of tears by nearly 57 percent

“I’ve been working on electro-neural interfaces for about a decade, but the idea to stimulate lacrimal gland for tear production came from my postdoctoral fellow, Michael Ackermann,” said study author Daniel Palanker from Stanford University.

Dry eye leads to inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva.

“The biggest surprise for us was discovering that stimulating the afferent neural pathway provided a more potent and long-lasting tear response,” Palanker added.

The study was published in the Journal of Neural Engineering.

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