Local News

Triangle Company Focuses On Dry Eye With First FDA-Approved Test

Posted July 14, 2003

— Do your eyes feel like they have sand in them? Are they red and itchy? Millions of people have a condition called dry eye.

Dry eye is when the eye does not produce enough tears. It is irritating and can be especially bothersome for contact lens wearers. The condition can even affect the results of laser eye surgery.

Those are just few reasons a local company is getting a lot of attention for its breakthrough in dry eye research.

Lisa McMurry thinks she may have it and is undergoing a new test called a Tear Profile to know for sure.

"It sort of feels like something is in it and it sometimes makes me want to blink," she said of her eyes.

Technicians take a small sample of tears and run it through a computer. The computer measures a protein found in tears. If the level is too low, the diagnosis is dry eye.

Dr. Kevin Bell at Wake Forest Family Eyecare used to put tear strips on the eye to measure moisture. Bell said that test was not always accurate.

"A lot of doctors still do it, but to me, that's like a Model-T Ford for diagnosing dry eye," he said.

Triangle-Based

Corneal Science

developed the Tear Profile System. It is the first test for dry eye approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

"It's 99.7 percent accurate. We talk about it being virtually 100 percent," said Whitney Touch of Corneal Science.

After five minutes, McMurry had her results. Her left eye was definitely dry.

"Now that I'm sitting here, I'm noticing the left eye is more dry than the right. So I guess that makes sense," she said.

Her right one is borderline for dry eye, which can still cause problems.

"It may occur at the end of the day, especially if she's in a dry environment," Bell said.

In severe cases of dry eye, doctors can insert tiny plugs into the corner of the eye to trap tears. Most people can be treated with eye drops.

Lisa McMurry hopes that will work for her.

"It's not really irritating, just a little bit," she said.

Right now, the Tear Profile System is available in five offices in North Carolina. Three of those offices are in Raleigh. For information on locations, call (919) 875-0828.

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