Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) are gastrointestinal disorders that can have extraoesophageal manifestations.

In a recent study, researchers investigated the relationship between reflux and problems with the surface of the eye.

Published in the official journal of The Cornea Society, the study revealed a higher prevalence of ocular discomfort and ocular surface disease in patients with GERD/LPR.

Ocular surface disease refers to a condition that affects the outer layer of the eye, causing discomfort and dryness.

The study involved 53 patients with LPR and 25 healthy individuals as controls. Fifteen patients with LPR received treatment using magnesium alginate eye drops and oral therapy for one month. The researchers conducted various evaluations, including clinical ocular surface examination, Ocular Surface Disease Index questionnaire, tear sampling, and conjunctival imprints.

The results showed that patients with LPR had significantly higher Ocular Surface Disease Index scores, reduced tear break-up time, and increased meibomian gland dysfunction compared to the healthy controls.
After treatment, the tear break-up time and meibomian gland dysfunction improved to normal values. The study also found increased pepsin concentration in patients with extraoesophageal manifestations of GERD, which decreased significantly with topical treatment.

The researchers observed significant changes in the expression of certain biomarkers, such as human leukocyte antigen-DR isotype (HLA-DR), IL8, mucin 5AC (MUC5AC), nicotine adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH), vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), and neuropeptide Y (NPY) transcripts.

These changes indicated the potential involvement of neurogenic inflammation in ocular discomfort associated with GERD/LPR. The study also suggested that topical alginate therapy could be useful in restoring ocular surface parameters.

The findings indicated the potential neurogenic nature of the inflammatory state and suggested that topical alginate therapy may be beneficial in managing ocular surface disease associated with GERD.

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