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Adv Exp Med Biol. 1998;438:643-51.

A unified theory of the role of the ocular surface in dry eye.

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Allergan, Inc., Irvine, California, USA.


It is our belief that the pathology of dry eye occurs when systemic androgen levels fall below the threshold necessary for support of secretory function and generation of an anti-inflammatory environment (Fig. 3). When this occurs, both the lacrimal gland and the ocular surface become irritated and inflamed, and they secrete cytokines that interfere with the normal neural connections that drive the tearing reflex. This leaves the lacrimal gland in an isolated condition, perhaps exacerbating atrophic alterations of the glandular tissue. These changes allow for antigen presentation at the surface of the lacrimal acinar cells and increase lymphocytic infiltration of the gland. A similar series of events may be occurring on the ocular surface. From this hypothesis we conclude: 1. The ocular surface, lacrimal gland, and interconnecting innervation act as an integrated servo-mechanism. 2. Once the lacrimal gland loses its androgen support, it is subject to immune/neurally mediated dysfunction. 3. The ocular surface is an appropriate target for dry eye therapeutics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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