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What is dry eye disease?

Dry eye disease is a multifactorial ocular condition in which the eye does not adequately produce tears. Dry eye disease is one of the most common ocular morbidities, affecting about 7% of the U.S. population. General estimates for the prevalence of dry eye disease are 14.5%. The disorder is most prevalent in elderly patients and women, in particular menopausal or post-menopausal women. Dry eye disease is characterized by ocular discomfort (including redness, gritty or burning eyes, and foreign body sensation), mucous discharge, disturbed vision, and tear film instability. Advanced dry eye disease can lead to pain, ulcers, or scars on the cornea, and some loss of vision.

There are both primary and secondary causes for dry eye disease, which result in disruptions to the precorneal tear film. The primary causes include systemic disorders, while the secondary causes can be from hormonal imbalances, environmental conditions (extreme temperatures, low humidity) and inflammatory disease. Other risk factors for dry eye disease include extensive use of display screens, refractive surgery, contact lens wear and certain medications.

Data suggests that previously observed beneficial effects of retinoids on ocular health may be mediated via RARγ receptors since agonists such as palovarotene, which are selective for RARγ receptors were able to completely reproduce the effects of ATRA in an ex vivo model of corneal fibrosis whereas agonists which preferentially bind RARα or RARβ receptors had minimal or no effect.