Dysfunctional neural regulation of lacrimal gland secretion and its role in the pathogenesis of dry eye syndromes

Ocul Surf. 2004 Apr;2(2):76-91. doi: 10.1016/s1542-0124(12)70146-5.


Tears are a complex fluid consisting of three layers, each of which is secreted by a different set of tissues or glands. The aqueous portion of the tear film is produced predominantly by the lacrimal gland. Dry eye syndromes are diseases in which the amount and composition of tears are altered, which can lead to ocular surface damage. There are many causes for dry eye syndromes. One such cause is the alteration in the functions of nerves innervating the lacrimal gland and the ocular surface. The autoimmune disease Sjogren syndrome can deleteriously affect the innervation of the lacrimal gland. Damage to the sensory nerves in the ocular surface, specifically the cornea, as a result of refractive surgery and normal aging, prevents the normal reflex arc to the lacrimal gland. Both defects can result in decreased tear secretion and dry eye syndromes. This review will discuss the current information regarding neurally-stimulated protein, water, and electrolyte secretion from the lacrimal gland and delineate how nerve dysfunction resulting from a variety of causes decreases secretion from this gland.