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Using contact lenses to heal eyes

  • March 26, 2024
  • 2 min read
Using contact lenses to heal eyes

A cross-disciplinary University of Waterloo team has created a new contact lens material that could serve as a bandage for corneal wounds. It also can release drugs in a controlled manner and help the eye heal more rapidly. Corneal abrasion patients spend a week to 10 days wearing clear, oxygen-permeable bandage contact lenses that are often instilled with eyedrops that contain antibiotics. However, this method can make it difficult to guarantee that enough drugs stay on the eye for sustained treatment.

“It’s a targeted-release drug delivery system that is responsive to the body,” said Dr. Lyndon Jones, a professor at Waterloo’s School of Optometry & Vision Science and director of the Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE). “The more injured you are, the more drug gets delivered, which is unique and potentially a game changer.”

The team achieved complete wound healing within just five days using this drug-releasing contact lens method. Another benefit is that it only becomes activated at eye temperature, providing an inbuilt storage mechanism. The next step will be fine-tuning the material. This includes entrapping different drugs in it.  

“These enzymes are very special because they’re involved in wound healing, and when you have a wound, they’re released in greater quantity,” Dr. Chau-Minh Phan, another member of the team said. “If you have a material that can be degraded in the presence of this enzyme, and we add a drug to this material, we can engineer it so it releases the drug in a way that is proportional to the amount of enzymes present at the wound. So, the bigger the wound, the higher the amount of drug released.”

The team believe that the material has great potential, not just for eyes but other parts of the body as well including skin ulcers.

A study outlining the researchers’ work was recently published in the journal Pharmaceutics.

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