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Research to Prevent Blindness

Understanding Corneal Injuries in Dry Eyes

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that proteins made by stem cells may become new targets for treating and preventing injuries to the cornea related to dry eye disease. They published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

Dry eye disease occurs when the eye can’t provide adequate lubrication with natural tears. People with the common disorder use various types of drops to replace missing natural tears and keep the eyes lubricated, but when eyes are dry, the cornea is more susceptible to injury.

“In this study involving genes that are key to eye health, we identified potential targets for treatment that appear different in dry eyes than in healthy eyes,” said senior investigator and RPB grantee Rajendra S. Apte, MD, PhD, the Paul A. Cibis Distinguished Professor in the John F. Hardesty, MD, Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences.

“Tens of millions of people around the world — with an estimated 15 million in the United States alone — endure eye pain and blurred vision as a result of complications and injury associated with dry eye disease, and by targeting these proteins, we may be able to more successfully treat or even prevent those injuries,” said Dr. Apte.

Read the full University of Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis press release

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