Glaucoma treatment means a series of eye drops, but new contact lenses have been designed to help make it much easier. The new products will release the medication required to help keep eye pressure down and slow down the development of the common eye disease. It could be the first time that contact lenses are used as a way to treat an eye condition.
The term glaucoma actually covers a group of conditions that cause the sight to deteriorate over time, according to NHS Choices. It is possible for one eye to be affected quicker than another, but it eventually leads to blindness in both eyes unless treated. There are currently four types of the disease known, and all start from different ages and affect a patient in different ways. Most people will suffer from open-angle glaucoma, which develops over a period of time.
Currently, three options are given to patients, depending on the advancement of the disease. Some patients find that eye drops are perfect; however laser eye treatment and surgery may be required. The treatments simply help to prevent the disease from advancing, as it is not reversible.
Contact lenses have been considered as treatments for almost 50 years. Since they are always in the eyes during the day, they can release the medication directly where necessary. However, controlling this has proven difficult. It has taken decades of research, but it is finally looking possible that contact lenses can help to make glaucoma treatment much easier.
Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology and Boston Children’s Hospital have been working together, and are finally closer to the possibility. They have found a way to make contact lenses place the right amount of medication into the eyes to help treat the condition.
To help hopefully speed up the process of approval, the materials for the lenses are those already approved by the FDA. Cell and animal studies have shown that these lenses have been safe. The lenses release the medication at constant rates, no matter the length of time. They have been tested for consistency over months, as well as weeks.
The benefit for patients is that the lenses can also be used to correct vision. However, those who do not need corrective lenses will also be able to wear them. For many who currently wear contact lenses, it will be very much the same.
It would make the treatment easier. Patients would no longer need to remember to take their drops, which could be detrimental to preventing the disease from getting worse. Eye drops are the main form of treatment for patients with open-angle glaucoma.
Glaucoma affects hundreds of thousands of patients around the world. While mostly those over 40-years-old are likely to suffer more than younger patients, there are some forms that occur from birth. It is also something that can occur when someone suffers an eye injury. Treatment lasts forever once glaucoma is diagnosed, but these new contact lenses could help to make it much easier to deal with.
By Alexandria Ingham