Dry eye syndrome and ocular surface disorders are among the most common and uncomfortable conditions in ophthalmology. Although, little progress has been made in terms of diagnosis and treatment over the last decades, extensive efforts have been devoted to both fields regarding many diseases included in this spectrum. The aim of this study was to evaluate the trends in upcoming technologies based on patent registration related to dry eye and ocular surface diseases. The search covered the period from January 1997 to December 2007, using public digital databases in the world wide web of four patent register offices and “Ocular Surface” and “Dry Eye” as key words. The results were divided into four predetermined groups: diagnostic and therapeutic equipment (A), medications (B), optical devices (C), and biotechnology (D). A total of 850 entries were detected during the 11 years surveyed, 267 belonging to group A, 411 to group B, 140 to group C, and 32 to group D. The geographic distribution was led by the US, followed by Japan. In group A there were 25 registrations of devices for tear film diagnosis, 10 for resistance of the cornea or intraocular pressure, 74 for morphometric analysis of the ocular surface, and 158 for therapeutic or diagnostic devices or equipment to be used in interventions. The registrations of medications indicated a trend towards diversification of therapeutic strategies and perspectives for biotechnological items in the treatment of dry eye syndrome and ocular surface disorders. Over the last 11 years there was an increase in number of scientific publications and patents in this area. The results indicate that the scientific effort of the last decades will result in technological innovation in the diagnostic and therapeutic practice related to dry eye syndrome and ocular surface disorders. Although, the effectiveness of these items remains to be proved, the present clinical limitations for the investigation and treatment of dry eye syndrome and ocular surface disorders can potentially be reverted by the synergism of research effort, technological improvement and market demand.
Ocular surface, patents, dry eye, technological innovation
Departamento de Oftalmologia, Otorrinolaringologia e Cirurgia de Cabeca e Pescoco, Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirao Preto, Universidade de Sao Paulo, Av. Bandeirantes, 3900, CEP 14049-900, São Paulo, Brazil.