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The March 15th, 2013 event kicked off as fish of all sizes swam in an aquarium in Shinagawa, Japan, while a professor of ophthalmology, Shigeru Kinoshita, from Kyoto talked about the essence of dry eye and about its latest treatment.
An Aquarium was chosen as the site for this seminar, so that the participants were able to understand what dry eye is and to learn about the similarities and differences between the eyes of fish and humans.
The body surfaces of a fish, including its eyes, are covered with mucous membranes. In contrast, during the course of evolution, the body surfaces of humans keratinized from mucous membranes into layers of skin, which is more tolerant to dryness.
The surface of human eyes, however, has remained as mucous membranes in order to retain its transparency and smooth, hairless nature. A layer of tears on top of mucous membranes covering eye surfaces are what protects the eyes from dryness. Healthy, normal mucous membranes and mucous play important roles in keeping the tears clean, as in neat and smooth rather than hygienic clean.
Professor Kinoshita pointed out that dry eye is not just about quantity of tear fluid. The eyes sense 'dryness', 'gritty/sandy sensation', 'pain', and discomfort, because mucin, which is one of the tear components, decreases and the ocular mucous membrane becomes irritated.
Japan is a leading nation when it comes to the treatment of dry eye, says Professor Kinoshita. Until recently, available medications only affected the quality of tears, but now a more proactive dry eye medication is available that can treat both mucin and the mucous membrane.