Skip to main content
Accessibility  |  Contact  |  Privacy  |  Terms of Service

Dry Eye Disease - Cellular Cause

  • Published: 2011-06-01 (Revised/Updated 2016-03-07) : Author: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
  • Synopsis: If you are one of the millions of people around the world who struggle with dry eye disease, good news is on the way.

Main Document

"As many as five million Americans 50 years of age and older are estimated to have dry eye disease, with the majority affected being women."

Harvard scientists see the early cellular cause of dry eye disease for the first time...

New research published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology suggests that natural killer cells promote inflammatory responses in dry eyes at both the ocular surface and the eye-draining lymph nodes

If you are one of the millions of people around the world who struggle with dry eye disease, good news is on the way.

A new research discovery published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology ( offers hope for new drugs that treat the cellular cause of the disease rather than its symptoms. That's because the research is the first to identify natural killer (NK) cells, a type of cell that provides innate immunity to the eyes, as promoting the inflammation that plays a critical role in the development of dry eye disease.

"Dry eye disease is suffered by millions of people in the U.S but still lacks effective management," said Yihe Chen, M.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Schepens Eye Research Institute at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary of the Department of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA.

"Our study has promoted the further understanding of the pathogenesis of dry eye disease, which is fundamental to develop new treatments and thus improve quality of life for those with this disease."

To make their discovery, the scientists tested two groups of mice.

The first group was normal and the second group was depleted of NK cells. When both sets of mice were induced with dry eye disease under the same conditions, the disease was less severe in the mice depleted of NK cells than the normal mice. This suggests that NK cells play a pivotal role in the development and severity of the disease, making them a target for the development of new drugs.

According to the National Eye Institute within the U.S. National Institutes of Health, dry eye disease occurs when the eyes do not produce tears properly or when tears evaporate too quickly. As many as five million Americans 50 years of age and older are estimated to have dry eye disease, with the majority affected being women. Tens of millions more are believed to have similar, but less severe symptoms.

"Dry eye disease can be a very serious problem for some people," said John Wherry, Ph.D., Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, "and while drops may help some, they only treat the symptoms of the disease. This research gets us closer to being able to correct the problems before they even occur in the first place."

The Journal of Leukocyte Biology ( publishes peer-reviewed manuscripts on original investigations focusing on the cellular and molecular biology of leukocytes and on the origins, the developmental biology, biochemistry and functions of granulocytes, lymphocytes, mononuclear phagocytes and other cells involved in host defense and inflammation. The Journal of Leukocyte Biology is published by the Society for Leukocyte Biology.

Details: Yihe Chen, Sunil K. Chauhan, Daniel R. Saban, Zahra Sadrai, Andre Okanobo, and Reza Dana. Interferon--secreting NK cells promote induction of dry eye disease. J Leukoc Biol June 2011 89:965-972; doi:10.1189/jlb.1110611 ;

Similar Topics

1 : International Clinical Trial Study of AMD Progression : NIH - National Eye Institute (NEI).
2 : People Who Experience Dry Eye Soon to Have Drug-Free Solution : American Academy of Ophthalmology.
3 : Do Blind People Express Emotions the Same Way as Sighted People : Universite de Geneve.
4 : Visually-Impaired Children Experience Egg Hunt with Eggs That Beep : Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
5 : US Prevalence of Blindness and Visual Impairment Expected to Increase : The JAMA Network Journals.
From our Vision Disability section - Full List (72 Items)

Submit disability news, coming events, as well as assistive technology product news and reviews.

Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.

Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.

List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.

Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be, and information on blood group types/compatibility.

1 : Exploring Upper Limb Dysfunction After Spinal Cord Injury
2 : Yearly Business Plan Scholarship for Students with Disabilities
3 : Registration now open for Turnstone Endeavor Games - April 20-22, 2018
4 : PyeongChang 2018 Paralympics: Day Eight Highlights
5 : PyeongChang 2018 Paralympics: Day Seven Highlights


Disclaimer: This site does not employ and is not overseen by medical professionals. Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.

Reporting Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.