Have your patients ever complained about the messiness of eye drops? Or, perhaps, admitted that they were missing doses here and there? Administration of eye medication could soon get a lot easier for patients, as researchers have developed a new type of contact lens that gradually delivers medicine to the eyes while they’re worn.
These new contact lenses are designed with a film on the lens around the periphery holding the medication. This film is made to dispense medicine gradually, as opposed to all at once. These contact lenses can either have no refractive power or can still correct vision with the added benefit of the medicine.
An August 2016 study examined the efficacy of these lenses in the delivery of glaucoma medicine. The results showed that this type of system is at least as effective as daily medicated eye drops in reducing eye pressure, which is the cause of blindness in glaucoma patients. Although a higher-dose lens yielded even better results, further studies are needed.
It might be several years before these lenses are approved and on the market, as the lenses have thus far only been tested on monkeys. Researchers are currently working on trials to examine the lenses in humans.
Medicine-dispensing contact lenses have the potential to reduce patient error and improve compliance, as eye drops can be messy and also irritating. Lenses tested in a 2014 study were able to dispense medication for one month.
Even though the lenses are not available yet, this is a promising development to share with your patients.