Glaucoma Drugs Can Delivered Via Contact Lenses for a Month

Posted by Admin on November 29, 2013
Researchers from Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, have engineered a contact lens that could deliver controlled amounts of medicine directly into the eyes of glaucoma patients continuously for up to a month. The study authors believe their contact lenses could replace eye drops as the standard treatment for glaucoma.

Published in the journal Biometrics, the study results demonstrate that an “early burst of drug release” was followed by sustained release for one month. The investigators believe this drug delivery system could also be employed in the treatment of other eye conditions.

Glaucoma is traditionally treated with eye drops, but as lead author Dr. Joseph Ciolina explains, “In general, eye drops are an inefficient drug delivery method that has notoriously poor patient adherence. This contact lens design can potentially be used as a treatment for glaucoma and perhaps as a platform for other ocular drug delivery applications.”

Latanoprost is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the treatment of glaucoma and is usually delivered in eye drop form. The contact lenses were created by encapsulating polymer films containing the drug into the periphery of a brand of commonly used contact lenses. Tests demonstrated that when using the lenses for a month, the levels of latanoprost in the eye’s aqueous humor were comparable to those achieved through use of daily eye drops.

The researchers also found that the lenses containing thicker drug-polymer films released more of the drug following the initial burst. By concentrating the polymer films in the periphery of the lens, the center is also kept clear so as to not interfere with the patient’s vision. Another benefit of the lenses is that they can be created with no refractive power or with the capacity to correct near- or far-sightedness.

Dr. Ciolino is aware that getting patients to strictly follow their treatment plan is difficult, since most people forget to apply their drops. He concludes by stating, "A non-invasive method of sustained ocular drug delivery could help patients adhere to the therapy necessary to maintain vision in diseases like glaucoma, saving millions from preventable blindness."

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