Approximately two and a half million people sustain damage to their eyes each year. Physicians have traditionally relied on eye drops to treat injuries such as scratches and burns.
However, there are drawbacks to using eye drops to treat eye irritation and injury.
Drawbacks to Using Eye Drops
The primary drawbacks to using eye drops is that blinking and tears clear the medicine quickly from the eye, so drops have to be used multiple times during the day.
Additionally, some eye drops have side effects such as inflammation and blurred vision. And because of difficulty instilling eye drops, some patients miss doses.
A New Alternative to Eye Drops
Researchers have recently developed a clear, round film which is about one tenth the size of a contact lens that may address the limitations of eye drops.
The new eye drop alternative is a drug-releasing wafer that’s embedded with tiny pockets. These pockets can hold and release medicine slowly over time. The wafer eventually dissolves completely.
The researchers make these wafers by pouring water-based polymer solutions onto a disk-shaped stamp. Then they’re baked to remove water. What’s left behind is a 2-mm-wide, 100-µm-thick solid polymer disk that is patterned with drug reservoirs (i.e., pockets) that are 500-nm in diameter and 500-nm deep.