Dry eye occurs when the eye does not produce enough of the right kind of tears to stay adequately lubricated, occuring with and exacerbating eyelid inflammation, known as blepharitis.
Blepharitis is the most common ocular condition seen by eye care practitioners, present in nearly 50% of patients.
Red, painful, irritated and itchy eyes, along with blurred vision, result from blepharitis and dry eye. These symptoms worsen with air-conditioning, reading, computer work and television. Conjunctivitis and styes are complications and in the worst-case scenario, blindness may ensue following infectious keratitis or post-cataract surgery intraocular inflammation.
Dry eye and blepharitis are a major financial and time burden to both the patient and the health care system. Despite the prevalence, no single treatment is available to address the underlying aspects of blepharitis. Current options address part of the problem, but are typically cumbersome (ie manual lid hygiene regimes), ineffective (ie lubricant eye drops) or expensive.
Researchers from Save Sight Institute have developed a new eye drop, which provides relief whilst uniquely addressing all underlying aspects of blepharitis.
Principle inventors Dr Kenneth Ooi and Clinical Professor Stephanie Watson recently conducted a clinical study with patients, finding that the new topical therapy clearly decreased signs and symptoms of blepharitis and dry eye.
According to Prof. Watson “Current treatments only address the symptoms of the condition, and can have significant side effects. This new eye drop treats both the causes and the symptoms of blepharitis, safely and with no steroid-related side effects.”
Dr Ooi points out that current approaches to treating blepharitis include a tedious eyelid hygiene routine which many patients, especially the elderly, find impossible to maintain.
“Artificial tear drops offer only temporary relief of symptoms” says Dr Ooi “and despite steroid orcyclosporine drops being available, they do not address the underlying condition, can cause numerous ocular side effects and in the case of cyclosporine, can be very expensive to manufacture”.
The new eye drop decreases cholesterol production and down regulates pro-inflammatory cytokines, thereby improving tear film stability and reducing inflammation.
Conjunctivitis may also be decreased because bacteria could be deprived of a nutrient-rich cholesterol environment, and there is no steroid-associated intraocular pressure increase or cataract development.
There is also a faster onset of action compared with cyclosporine eyedrops.
The new eye drop is cost-effective to manufacture compared with other anti-inflammatory agents, and can be combined with lubricants, antibiotics and/or steroids to enhance the therapeutic impact.
The eye drop also has potential to treat conditions such as post- LASIK dry-eye, Sjogren’s syndrome, rosacea, atopic keratoconjunctivitis, ocular cicatricial pemphigoid and episcleritis.
Watson and Ooi’s work has been selected for presentation at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) annual congress and was also selected as finalists in the UNSW Innovation Awards for therapy.
The new eye drop is not yet available to the public, as funding is currently being sought to complete dosing studies.