Treatment for the second leading cause of vision loss and blindness, glaucoma, may be improved with a new type of contact lenses that are loaded with Vitamin E. These new Vitamin E contact lenses may serve as delivery devices to treat glaucoma and other eye diseases such as dry eye and cataracts.
Medicated eye drops are typically prescribed as the primary treatment for glaucoma; however, the medicine is washed away in 2 to 5 minutes and most of it doesn’t reach the target tissues. Instead, most of eye drops enter the blood stream, where they may cause unwanted side effects.
Dr. Anuj Chauhan gave a presentation at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in San Francisco. He described how the Vitamin E lenses he and his team are developing could deliver eye medication for glaucoma. The typical treatment for glaucoma is eye drops to relieve the build-up of pressure inside the eye.
Symptoms of glaucoma are not usually noticed until peripheral vision is gradually lost. Glaucoma is due to damage to the optic nerve. Sometimes this is caused by increased pressure of the aqueous humor, a fluid inside the eye. It is actually several diseases that cause optic nerve damage, and glaucoma’s diagnosis is no longer solely based on elevated Intraocular Pressure (IOL).
Vitamin E is a natural nutraceutical that has been proven to be beneficial for the eye, due to is anti-oxidant properties.
The Vitamin E contact lenses offer extended-release delivery. Invisible clusters of vitamin E molecules create transport barriers that reduce the rate of the elusion of medication from the contact lens into the eye. The medication stays in the tears much longer than eye drops do, so the therapy is more effective.
Chauhn calls these vitamin structures “nano-bricks.” Chauhan said, “The drug molecules can’t go through the vitamin E. They must go around it. Because the nanobricks are so much bigger than the drug molecules–we believe about a few hundred times bigger–the molecules get diverted and must travel a longer path. This increases the duration of the drug release from the lenses.”
Animal research has indicated that the vitamin E contact lenses could be up to 100x as effective as current commercial lenses. They could be developed for continuous wear for 1 month at a time.
As an added bonus, Vitamin E has a track record of being beneficial to the eye. It is an anti-oxidant. Putting Vitamin E in the contact lenses blocks ultra-violet (UV) radiation. And the lenses are just as transparent as regular contact lenses. Therefore, these contact lenses may be developed to both prevent and treat eye disease in the future.
Photo credit: Anuj Chauhan, Ph.D.
Source: Science Daily