New Way to Deliver Glaucoma Medicine

Contact Lens illuminated from behind on black

Believe it or not, one of the biggest reasons that medication used to halt the progression of glaucoma doesn’t work well is that people stop using it. Because it’s an eye drop, and because the drops can be irritating, people who could benefit by continued use of the medication usually stop after six months. So it stops working, and their glaucoma gets worse.

To combat this, two doctors teamed up and created a solution: a contact lens that dispenses the medicine continually and gradually.

Dr. Joseph Ciolino, an ophthalmologist from Mass Eye and Ear, and Daniel Kohane, MD, PhD, director of the Laboratory for Biomaterials and Drug Delivery at Boston Children’s Hospital, have spent several years developing this innovative solution in collaboration with MIT.

Their device delivers the drugs in “large quantity for a long period at a relatively constant rate,” according to Kohane.

While the idea of using a contact lens to deliver medicine is not new, such a device has never been approved by the FDA because up until now no one had found a way to keep the medicine from dispensing too quickly. Ciolino and Kohane have figured out a way around that obstacle.

The two have done animal trials and are looking to do their first human trials in the near future. They’re hoping that by making the treatment less onerous, more patients will be willing to continue with it, thereby halting the progress of the disease. Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide; this treatment won’t cure it but can stop it from getting worse.

For the full text of the article describing the study, go here.


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