Dry Eye

Topical Insulin May Be Considered Effective, Inexpensive Treatment for Patients With Diabetes With Dry Eye Disease

Posted on

Approximately 15% of people with diabetes are diagnosed with dry eye disease (DED), which results from damage to the lacrimal gland as diabetes progresses. Typically, artificial tears are prescribed as treatment for DED, but they only provide symptomatic relief. In contrast, topical insulin can quickly repair and heal the lacrimal gland. Researchers compared the efficacy of both treatments in a new study in Eye & Contact Lens.

In the randomized, double-blind interventional study, patients with diabetes with DED (N = 160; ages 18 to 60 years) were randomly assigned to receive topical insulin (n = 80) or standard artificial tears (SAT) (n = 80). Baseline Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI), Schirmer I test, tear break-up time, and ocular Sjögren’s International Collaborative Clinical Alliance (SICCA) scores were compared at 4 weeks follow-up.

After 4 weeks, a significant number of participants showed improvement in OSDI scores (topical insulin group: 66%, SAT group: 63%, P = 0.0001), but they were not significantly better than each other (P = 0.453). Most participants experienced worsening of Schirmer I test and tear break-up time scores (P > 0.05), but no change in SICCA scores (P > 0.05).

Because improvement occurred in both groups, the researchers suggest topical insulin may be an effective and less expensive treatment for patients with diabetes with DED. Further research is needed to better understand long-term effects of topical insulin treatment for DED.


Aniah Azmi N, Bastion MC. Short-term results of trial of topical insulin for treatment of dry eyes in diabetics [published online ahead of print May 2019]. Eye Contact Lens. doi: 10.1097/ICL.0000000000000623.

Related Articles
Not All DED Patients Have Chronic Symptoms
Aug 02, 2021
Dry Eye Awareness Month: Focus on these 3 Goals
Jul 27, 2021
Systane iLux non-inferior to Lipiflow in change in meibomian gland score
Jul 25, 2021