A new type of contact lens which is capable of dispensing medication into the eye could lead to eyedrops becoming obsolete, it has been claimed.
Experts at Auburn University claim that the new contact lenses could end up becoming the first choice for consumers who are in need of eye drops but unwilling to apply them in the traditional way.
A team led by Auburn professor Mark Byrne claim that drugs are embedded in the new contact lenses and work by delivering frequent doses to the eye throughout the life of the lens itself.
He noted that patients with glaucoma and others needing medication such as anti-inflammatories, antibiotics and even antihistamines could effectively treat their conditions without the need for creams and liquids that are uncomfortable to apply.
Professor Byrne and his team develop the new contact lenses by altering the polymer from which some lenses are normally made, so that it is "molecularly imprinted" in a way that enables slow drug release.
He explained that the process is similar to a window, which can be opened to control what can pass through in this case eye medication.
The expert said the study was the first to successfully use a lens to transfer a "steady, effective concentration" of a drug to tear fluid for the entire 24 hours that this particular lens could be worn.
He also revealed that this particular type of delivering drugs to the eye is around 100 times more effective than conventional methods of treating conditions, so offers reliability alongside comfort to the contact lens wearers.
"With numbers that impressive, this technology is a real game-changer. Eyedrops may soon be a thing of the past," Professor Byrne added.
The key now will be to receive approval from the US Food and Drug Administration so that the contact lenses can be produced on a mass scale and begin changing people"s lives for the better.
by Adrian Galbreth