Novel tear substitute promising for dry eyes

NEW YORK Thu Apr 26, 2007 12:55pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Eye drops made from tamarind seeds, which come from the Asian evergreen tree Tamarindus indica, show promise as a treatment for dry eye syndrome, in a small study.

Dry eye syndrome is a common and often painful condition that can cause damage to the cornea and harm vision, the researchers point out in a report published online by the journal BioMedCentral--Ophthalmology.

People who wear contact lenses often suffer from dry eye syndrome, as do many of those who undergo laser procedures to correct their vision. Women going through menopause also frequently develop this condition.

Dry eyes are typically treated with artificial tears often containing hyaluronic acid (HA). The problem with these eye drop preparations is that they do not stay on the eye surface for very long. Tamarind seed polysaccharide or TSP is more adhesive, enabling it to stick to the surface of the eye longer. TSP is used as an ingredient in food material and in pharmaceutical products.

In a comparative study, Drs. Maurizio Rolando and Cristiana Valente from the University of Genoa, Italy had 30 dry-eye sufferers use TSP or HA drops three or more times per day for 90 days.

The TSP eye drops performed as well as the HA drops on several objective measures of dry eye syndrome.

Furthermore, the TSP drops did a significantly better job of relieving several key subjective symptoms of dry eye syndrome - namely, trouble blinking, ocular burning, and the sensation of having something in one's eye.

"The significant differences between products in some subjective symptom scores are interesting and warrant further investigation in a larger study population," Rolando and Valente write.

Both products were well tolerated with no reported cases of blurred vision or burning or itching sensations in the eye. "This confirms their suitability, even for frequent use, as tear substitutes in the treatment of dry eye," the investigators conclude.

SOURCE: BioMed Central - Ophthalmology, online March 29, 2007.

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