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    New technology could replace eye drops

    Dallas—Researchers at the Cullen Eye Institute at Baylor College of Medicine have developed nanowafer technology to delivery ocular drugs, an alternative to inefficient eye drops.

    What is a nanowafer?

    According to researchers, a nanowafer is a small, transparent circular disc that contains arrays of drug-loaded nanoreservoirs—essentially, a lens that is one-twentieth the thickness of a contact lens that will deliver a drug slowly and consistently before dissolving.

    “It’s made out of a polymer that has an array of wells in it that vary in size from nanometer to micrometer,” says Steven Pflugfelder, MD, an author on the study, speaking exclusively to Optometry Times. “A drug can be placed in those wells. It’s a way of adjusting the release of the drug from this wafer on the surface of the eye.

    Related: Diagnosing and treating dry eye with technology

    Similar to a contact lens, the nanowafer is placed on eye; however, it wouldn’t go on cornea.

    “In the study it was placed on the cornea, but for dry eye, it would go on conjunctiva because it would blur vision,” says Dr. Pflugfelder.

    Dr. Pflugfelder says how the length of time for the nanowafer to dissolve depends on the polymer of which it is made—some would take days, while others might last hours.

    According to Dr. Pflugfelder, the device came about when a nanobiologist who had a background in developing similar wafer drug delivery systems thought it might be ideal for treating ocular conditions.

    Next: The problem with drops

    Colleen E. McCarthy
    Colleen McCarthy is a freelance writer based in the Cleveland area and a former editor of Optometry Times. She is a 2010 graduate of the ...

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