The cornea, transparent surface of the eye is instrumental to clear vision. Injuries or diseases can lead to a loss of cornea transparency, and ultimately loss of sight. Around 28 million people suffer from uni- or bi-lateral corneal blindness worldwide. The most prominent causes are Dry Eye Syndromes (up to 34% of the elderly), and corneal abrasions (about 1 million cases per year in USA alone).
My lab recently demonstrated that after an insult on the eye surface, the lacrimal gland reacts swiftly to modulate the tear composition. The resulting tears can support the cornea wound healing via a cocktail of factors. In case of defected lacrimal gland, the wound healing process is impaired. In the proposed project, my lab will take advantage of the mouse and zebrafish to decipher the lacrimal gland – cornea synergy. This strategy will open new avenues to develop therapeutic ways to treat corneal insults, post-surgery recovery, or age-related defects.