Contact Lenses as a Potential Drug Delivery Method for Glaucoma

August 30, 2016
Pharmaceutical Technology Editors

Researchers at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary developed a potential drug delivery method using a contact lens to deliver glaucoma medication.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary have developed a potential drug delivery method using a contact lens to deliver glaucoma medication. The researchers tested the method using a drug-polymer film to gradually deliver latanoprost eye drops to four glaucomatous monkeys. The study, published on August 29, 2016 in Ophthalmology, discussed how these contact lenses may provide a viable treatment option to patients suffering from glaucoma.

"We found that a lower-dose contact lens delivered the same amount of pressure reduction as the latanoprost drops, and a higher-dose lens, interestingly enough, had better pressure reduction than the drops in our small study," lead study author, Joseph B. Ciolino, MD, said in a statement. "Based on our preliminary data, the lenses have not only the potential to improve compliance for patients, but also the potential of providing better pressure reduction than the drops."

Contact lenses have been studied in the past as a potential method for drug delivery. However, researchers have found lenses often dispense drugs too quickly. In this study, the researchers assessed the inclusion of thin film of drug-encapsulated polymers in the periphery of the lens to slow drug administration. The lenses allowed for normal visual acuity, breathability, and hydration. Additionally, the researchers found contact lenses with lower doses of latanoprost deliver the same amount of eye pressure reduction as eye drops.

The researchers concluded that using contact lenses as a drug delivery method may be just as effective as eye drops, but further study is needed to confirm the findings. The next step, researchers say, is to determine the safety and efficacy of the lenses for human trials. "If we can address the problem of compliance, we may help patients adhere to the therapy necessary to maintain vision in diseases like glaucoma, saving millions from preventable blindness," said Ciolino. "This study also raises the possibility that we may have an option for glaucoma that's more effective than what we have today."

Source: Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary