Dry eye syndrome is an irritating condition that occurs when the eyes don't produce enough tears. Ordinarily, sufferers turn to drops or other medication to keep their eyes lubricated. Recently, however, researchers at the Cincinnati Eye Institute tested a new gadget that promises drug-free relief from dry eye – and you stick it up your nose.

Known as TrueTear, the device was designed by biomedical engineer Michael Ackermann.

It consists of a battery-powered base unit, and a disposable tip. That tip has two gel-covered prongs on the end, which are gently inserted up the nostrils. Once they've gone as far as they can comfortably go, the user activates the device, causing it to stimulate to a nerve in the nasal cavity. This, in turn, causes the eyes to produce tears.

In the recent study, 97 volunteers with moderate to severe dry eye were asked to use TrueTear for a period of 180 days. Tests performed before and after nasal stimulation indicated that use of the device did indeed result in significantly higher levels of tears.

Additionally, the tears that were produced were "complete," meaning that they contained all the elements found in natural tears. Sometimes, people with dry eye do produce enough tears, but they're lacking in key substances such as oils or proteins.

The study was lead by Prof. Edward J. Holland, and was presented at the 121st Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. TrueTear is made by the company Allergan, and is available by prescription only.

Sources: AAO, TrueTear

View gallery - 2 images