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Tear Film

March 27, 2007

Scientists are studying the chemistry of tears.


Research that could bring tears to your eyes. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Kelly Nichols is no stranger to tears. As an optometry professor at the Ohio State University, she studies them. Recently, she and her colleagues looked at the thin layer of oil that surrounds the eye’s normal, everyday tear film. They found neurotransmitters, or signaling chemicals, including one that regulates sleep in other parts of the body. It’s not yet known how these chemicals function in tears, but Nichols says they may be related to the symptoms that afflict millions of people with dry eye disorders.

KELLY NICHOLS (Ohio State University):
They may stop doing some of their favorite activities because their eyes bother them too much to keep them open. For instance, their vision fluctuates and they have to blink to clear their vision, or they stop doing what they’re doing to close their eyes and let their eyes rest.

Knowing how their tear chemistry differs from normal may lead to solutions. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.