Researchers Create Contact Lenses to Treat Glaucoma

June 05, 2019 2 min read

Glaucoma, the leading cause of blindness, is usually treated with medicated eye drops. However this method of treatment is often scorned by patients. If you’ve ever watched Friends, you’ll know what I mean (see: “The One with Joey’s Big Break”).

Fortunately, researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a unique contact lens that can deliver glaucoma medication, helping patients keep their eyesight without feeling that stinging sensation from eye drops.

“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,” Joseph Ciolino, M.D., Mass. Eye and Ear Cornea specialist and lead author of the paper, said in a press release.

The study was published in the January 2014 issue of Biomaterials.

The new lens contains a polymer in the periphery that helps control the release of latanoprost, a drug that’s commonly used to treat glaucoma. The lenses can be made without refractive power or with the ability to correct the patient’s nearsighted or farsighted eyes. Researchers have successfully tested the lenses in cell culture and on animals, including rabbits.

“The lens we have developed is capable of delivering large amounts of drug at substantially constant rates over weeks to months,” Daniel Kohane, a professor and director of the Laboratory for Biomaterials and Drug Delivery at Boston Children’s Hospital, said in the press release.

More research needs to be done before the lenses are available for people. Researchers also need to find out how much the human eye can tolerate, wearing a contact lens all day and night, while also receiving drug treatment at the same time. Nevertheless, this new lens is a step towards finding new and more effective ways to treat people with glaucoma.

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