27 October 2003
All eyes on new research
A NEW research trial at Aston University could help to pinpoint the best type of topical medication to combat the symptoms of dry eyes, a condition which affects thousands of people in the UK.
Dry eyes tends to be an age-related condition, with about 7 in 100 people in their 50s and about 15 in 100 people in their 70s affected. However, younger people do develop the condition and it can also be related to contact lens wear and illnesses such as arthritis or thyroid disease.
Christine Purslow, who is leading the research project at Aston explained: 'We are looking at the effects of what are known as artificial tear drops going into the eye and the temperature distribution that this leaves, and it may be that the comfort of the drop is related to how it cools the eye down and how long that effect lasts. The trial will compare the use of different drops and we are looking for a cross-section of volunteers who think they have dry eyes especially if it is related to wearing contact lenses to take part. At the moment, patients can use any type of drops or maybe none at all, with varying success. We're now trying to find out what makes these drops effective for patients who suffer with dry eyes. This will ultimately help us to discover the best medication to advise for dry eyes.'
The trial, which will begin in January, requires several visits to the Vision Sciences department at Aston. Each time volunteers will receive a different type of drop in their eyes. They are then filmed with a special thermal image camera to compare each type of drop and its effects. The process is quick and completely pain free, and travel expenses are paid.
The researchers are looking for a cross-section of people who think they have dry eyes to take part in the trial, including people who wear contact lenses and feel their eyes become dry during the day.
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