Implant for Stimulating Tear Reflex Offers Dry Eye Treatment

Scientists at Stanford have developed a device that electronically stimulates tear production, offering a potential treatment for dry eye disease. The 16 mm long device, implanted beneath the inferior lacrimal gland and activated wirelessly, sends pulses from an electrode to the afferent nerves around the tear gland. This activated the tear reflex and increased tear production by 57% in the rabbit test subjects.

The original design was intended only to stimulate the tear gland itself, but the researchers discovered that activating the nerves around the tear gland produced a much larger tear volume. The next step for is to determine whether the tears produced by the device match natural tears in lipid and protein content, and the device is currently undergoing clinical trials for FDA approval for Oculeve, the company founded by the study authors, to bring a product to market.

“I hope to see it on the market in the next year,” says Professor Daniel Palanker, senior author of the study. “Meanwhile, we’re continuing research into the mechanisms of the tearing response, its enhancement and quality of the tears produced by neural stimulation.”

Allergan announced the completion of the acquisition of Oculeve in August 2015.

Further information: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1741-2560/13/1/016006

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