|Posted by australiandryeye on May 2, 2017 at 11:15 PM|
British scientists have patented the design of a biological tear that could be used by millions of people who suffer with eye problems caused by their own tears not working properly.
The most common treatments for dry eyes are lubricants, ointments or artificial tear fluids made from polymers such as methlycellulose (a component of wallpaper paste).
But researchers at Oxford University have discovered the secret of the essential ingredients of real tears, and are working towards developing drops based on the proteins and fats in the real thing.
Most people associate tears with crying, but they play a vital role in the visual system every minute of the day. As well as being a super-efficient cleaning fluid, they sluice foreign objects from the eye, get rid of noxious fumes such as those given off by onions, and provide biological protection from infections.
They also keep the eye clean and moist - working like car windscreen wash-ers every time we blink - and feed the cells of the cornea. Because the cornea has no blood supply, the tears carry oxygen and essential nutrients to the tissue cells and take the waste products away.
A lack of tears can often result from effects of some medications such as anti-histamines, oral contraceptives and antidepressants. Tear production also naturally decreases with age, resulting in dry eyes, which can feel hot and gritty and appear red and swollen.
'Every time we blink, we spread a thin layer of tear over the eye,' says Dr John Tiffany, lecturer and tear researcher at Oxford University. 'Normally the eye blinks pretty rapidly to constantly refresh the tear layer, but when, for example, people stare at a computer screen for a long time, the layer breaks up and that can result in damage.
'Problems such as the air pollution from the general urban environment or as a result of specific working conditions are increasing, and mean that in some cases people have to use eye baths to get rid of the irritation.'
He says eye drops and other products use a variety of artificial polymers but, as yet, there is no completely satisfactory formula for tears.
The researchers are planning talks with pharmaceutical companies about the future development of the Oxford tear.
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