We know dry eye degrades a patient’s ocular surface. We know it can affect their psychological state. But are there CNS markers of its effects in the brain? Turns out, there are. Researchers recently suggested patients with dry eye disease (DED) have abnormal regional homogeneity values in their limbic-cortical circuits. This dysfunction may play an important role in the pathophysiology of DED, they noted. It may also allow future studies to understand the nature of chronic neuropathic pain in some DED patients, laying the groundwork for better interventions.

The study included 20 DED patients and 23 healthy controls, all scanned with functional MRI. Relative to the controls, the patients had significantly increased regional homogeneity values in the left inferior occipital gyrus, left superior temporal gyrus and right superior medial prefrontal cortex. These values were significantly decreased in the right superior frontal gyrus, middle frontal gyrus and bilateral middle cingulum.

Analysis indicated that the combination of regional homogeneity values in the left middle cingulum and left inferior occipital gyrus in distinguishing DED and healthy patients had a sensitivity of 95%, a specificity of 91% and an accuracy of 93%.

“A combination of regional homogeneity values values in the left middle cingulum and the left inferior occipital gyrus could be applied as a potential imaging biomarker to distinguish patients with DED from healthy controls,” the study authors concluded in their paper.

Yan H, Shan X, Wei S, et al. Abnormal spontaneous brain activities of limbic-cortical circuits in patients with dry eye disease. Front Hum Neurosci. 2020;14:574758.