New Dissolving Contact Lenses Also Treat Inflammatory Eye Disease

Lena Kirakosyan's picture
Dissolving Contact Lenses

According to data reported by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, in the developing world, between 5 and 25% of eye diseases are causing blindness in the population. This causes the patient's life to be radically transformed since it limits their daily activities as well as their way of communicating with others. Researchers now find dissolving contact lenses that help help to treat eye disease.

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There are different treatments to counteract these types of ailments, but patients do not take full advantage of the drug prescribed, which causes side effects. As an alternative to this, a group led by Dr. José Juan Escobar Chávez, developed biodegradable polymer lenses, whose active substance is dexamethasone. Now the contact lenses can dissolve.

The Laboratory Project

Ocular inflammatory diseases, or uveitis, affect any part of the eye or its tissues (optic nerve, blood vessels, muscles, or tissues) and are caused by infectious agents, such as bacteria, parasites, fungi, and viruses, and non-infectious agents, such as contamination or hereditary issues. These can include conditions such as allergic and chronic conjunctivitis, scleritis, episcleritis, keratitis, dry eye, among others, as reported in a study by the Association to Avoid Blindness (APEC) in Mexico. Overall, between 10 and 25% of cases of any of these conditions can cause blindness in the patient, so for the research group, it was important to create a solution that solved health problems of this type.

The laboratory, headed by Dr. Escobar, designed and developed different non-conventional pharmaceutical medications, that is, they are not administered orally. His research includes alternatives administered through transdermal, subcutaneous, nasal, and ocular processes.

The project that the research group worked on over the past six months focused on inflammatory diseases that affect the eye, for which they created biodegradable polymer lenses, added with dexometasone, an alternative to the eyedrops currently found in the market.

The process of experimentation and development of the lenses consisted of obtaining different excipients that were used in ophthalmic formulations, which were combined to analyze certain properties: pH, with the intention of not causing eye irritation, manipulation to avoid rupture, bioadhesion to the ocular membrane, the diameter and thickness, being translucent, and the chemical content.

The advantages of contact lenses

In an interview, those involved in the research, Dr. José Juan Escobar Chávez, along with Carlos Arturo Velázquez Tapia and Abel Esau Peña Cuevas, graduates of pharmacy, stated that unlike the drops, the lenses are loaded with a greater amount of dexamethasone, a corticosteroid that acts as an anti-inflammatory and anti-suppressant.

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In contrast, with the use of the drops, the dose of the drug used is very small, which means that the patient has to extend the treatment for a longer period of time: "the dose that is used is very small and the time it remains in the ocular mucosa is short, hence why it has to be administered for longer."

Thus, the students’ proposal works for a longer period of time, avoiding the side effects of the drug that, according to researchers, can cause glaucoma, which occurs when the pressure of the eye fluid increases gradually and cannot be drained, which can eventually cause blindness. In fact, a few days ago eMaxHealth published another article about new Contact Lenses that monitor blood sugar in diabetics.

Other advantages are the amount of dexamethasone with which the lenses were loaded, much higher than that of the drops; the polymeric film that they make allows for the release of this drug to be controlled; its property of being biodegradable, that is, once it is in contact with the eye, it starts to dissolve and disintegrate naturally; and, the cost of development is lower than conventional treatments.

This innovation is an alternative that will improve the quality of life of people with this type of disease and the way they have to live with it. As they have done throughout multiple investigations, the group fulfilled the objective of "trying to make systems more effective and more comfortable for the patient, which also allow for treating different pathologies,” as Dr. Escobar emphasized.

The achievements

The commitment and impact of the projects of the team led by Dr. Escobar have earned him several awards from the health sector industry and academia. Recently, the group won third place in 2017 from CANIFARMA (National Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry), in the category of Technological Innovation, for the project "Development and characterization of polymer lenses loaded with dexamethasone as an alternative for the treatment of ocular inflammatory diseases,” which adds to Dr. Escobar’s two previous awards (both for first place), in the scope of transdermal processes within the same contest.

Those involved in the project said they were satisfied that their work was recognized, as it may benefit a massive part of the population. Now, they are waiting to test the research in order to begin with the development of the drug and its patenting (already in process), a proposal that until now has been unique in Mexico.

If you use contact lenses, please don't buy decorative contact lenses, they are really dangerous for your eyes and vision. Also, avoid these common bad habits of contact lens wearers that can lead to blindness.

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