In a previous study, we demonstrated that topical D-beta-hydroxybutyrate ameliorates corneal epithelial erosion and superficial punctate keratopathy in a rat model of dry eye disease. In the current investigation, we performed a prospective, randomized, multicentre, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to assess the safety and efficacy of 1% D-3-hydroxybutyrate eye drops in patients with dry eye disease. A total of 65 patients were randomly assigned to either the placebo group or the 1% D-3-hydroxybutyrate group, and the treatments were administered 6 times a day for 4 weeks. We then evaluated corneal fluorescein staining, corneal and conjunctival rose Bengal staining, tear film break-up time (BUT), Schirmer score, and subjective symptoms. At both 2 and 4 weeks, the corneal rose Bengal score was significantly better in the 1% D-3-hydroxybutyrate group than in the placebo group. Among patients with an initial Schirmer score of ≤5 mm, the corneal fluorescein staining score was significantly better in the 1% D-3-hydroxybutyrate group than in the placebo group at two weeks. Mild ocular symptoms occurred in both groups, and these spontaneously resolved. The present study suggested that 1% D-3-hydroxybutyrate eye drops are safe and effective in treating ocular surface disorders in patients with tear-deficient dry eye disease.
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