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Drug-Dispensing Contact Lens Developed

Taking eye drops multiple times a day can be difficult to do, and, because of blinking and tearing, as little as 1 to 7 percent of the dose is actually absorbed by the eye. Now, researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston and collaborating institutions have developed a special contact lens that can gradually dispense a constant amount of medication to the eye, at adjustable rates. In laboratory testing, the prototype lens dispensed ciprofloxacin (an antibiotic often used in eye drops) for 30 days, the longest duration for which contact lenses are currently approved by the FDA; in some tests, the lens continued releasing drug for up to 100 days. The amounts dispensed were sufficient to kill pathogens in a laboratory assay. The researchers see applications in conditions such as glaucoma and dry-eye which require frequent daily eye drops. They have begun to test the prototype lens in animals and plan to begin human testing as soon as possible. The technology recently won the Life Sciences track in MIT's 100K Entrepreneurship Competition. This work was reported in the July issue of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science. [Press release] [IOVS abstract]