In the future, medication to treat eye diseases like glaucoma could be dispensed from a contact lens, new research suggests.
A team of researchers from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology, Boston Children's Hospital, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a contact lens that effectively delivers latanoprost, a glaucoma treatment, in cell and animal models.
"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 a statement.
Researchers found that over the course of a month, the contact lenses were able to deliver concentrations of the drug comparable to applying the drug topically every day.
Researchers noted that the lens can either be made to correct refractive error in one or both eyes, or with no refractive power.
The findings are published in the journal Bioinformatics.
This isn't the first contact lens that has shown promise in lab studies for helping to treat eye diseases. In 2011, University of California, San Diego, researchers announced the development of a contact lens that can continuously monitor internal eye pressure, which is considered a glaucoma risk factor.
And University of Florida in Gainesville researchers presented in 2010 their contact lenses that use vitamin E to deliver glaucoma medication to the eye and help that medication stay in the eye, without getting carried away by tears, longer than eye drops.