Contact lenses that deliver glaucoma medication over long periods are
getting closer to reality, say researchers working with laboratory animals.
In their study, the lenses delivered the glaucoma drug latanoprost (brand name
Xalatan) continuously to animals for a month. It's hoped that someday such
lenses will replace eye drops now used to treat the eye disease, the
Eye drops inefficient
"In general, eye drops are an inefficient method of drug delivery that
has notoriously poor patient adherence," study lead author Dr Joseph
Ciolino, a cornea specialist at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, said
in an infirmary news release. "This contact lens design can potentially be
used as a treatment for glaucoma and as a platform for other [eye] drug
Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide.
The lenses, which appeared safe in cell culture and animal studies, are the
first to be shown to release drugs for this long in animals, according to the
researchers. The study appears online and in the January print issue of the
The lens the research team developed "is capable of delivering large
amounts of drug at substantially constant rates over weeks to months,"
Daniel Kohane, director of the Laboratory for Biomaterials and Drug Delivery at
Boston Children's Hospital, said in the news release.
Ciolino said a non-invasive method of sustained eye-drug delivery could save
millions of people from blindness if it helps them comply with their medication
The US National Eye Institute has more about glaucoma.
(Picture: Woman putting contact lenses from Shutterstock)