Researchers develop drug-eluting contact lens, but testing is still in the early stages

New research has indicated that contact lenses could one day be used to treat glaucomaContact Lens. Published in the journal Biomaterials, a study conducted by a group of researchers based in Boston, Mass. has shown the potential efficacy of prototype contact lenses that release glaucoma medication when placed in eyes for up to 30 days at a time. This could one day eliminate the need for people with glaucoma to remember to apply medicated eye drops each and every day.

Medicated eye drops are the most common treatment for glaucoma, and like any medication, it is important to take them as prescribed by an ophthalmologist – usually once a day. However, it is estimated that 50 percent of glaucoma patients do not take their medication for a variety of reasons – they may forget, they may have trouble getting the drops in their eyes or they may just not like how the eye drops feel.

According to the research, contact lenses that are currently on the market can only release or absorb drugs for a few hours. The researchers' goal was to extend the duration of medication release so that it would be more convenient for people living with glaucoma and help them with drug adherence. The contact lenses were developed using special materials, including a common glaucoma drug. The contact lenses were then inserted into the eyes of rabbits and measured daily for signs of ocular infection or discomfort while also measuring for concentrations of the drug in each eye. The results were promising and showed consistent delivery amounts of the drug into the eyes for 30 days.

While the results are encouraging, further research must be done in humans to assess the therapeutic value of these contact lenses. In addition, it's important to know that people with glaucoma who have never worn contact lenses may not be able to wear them for a full 30 days. For now, people with glaucoma will need to remember to take their glaucoma medications as prescribed.

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