Wouldn't it be great if eyedrops didn't spill out of your eyes?

November 13, 2017

A new kind of eyedropper can deliver tiny droplets of medication, treating the eye more precisely than traditional eyedroppers, while reducing waste and avoiding dangerous side effects. According to research presented today at AAO 2017, the 121st Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, this technology may prove to be especially advantageous in the treatment of dry eye and glaucoma, for which patients require daily use of medicated eyedrops that can cost hundreds of dollars for a bottle that lasts only a month.

Researchers at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai showed that a microdose delivery system achieved a treatment effect comparable to a conventional eyedropper, while delivering less than four times the amount of drug. Microdosing also reduced the eye's exposure to the drug and preservative by 75 to 80 percent. Patients experienced reduced side effects, leading to a gentler treatment.

While glaucoma treatment preserves sight by reducing pressure inside the eye, it can also cause painful, irritating side effects for patients.

A conventional eyedropper's opening creates a drop that's four to five times larger in volume than the human eye can actually hold. When drops are too big, the overflow runs down the face or drains into the body through the ducts in the corner of the eye. Oversized eyedrops don't just waste medication, they overdoses the eye with medication and toxic preservatives that cause side effects, such as redness, itching, irritation, and dry eye. Some topical medications can cause the heart to beat too fast, too slow or irregularly when too much is absorbed into the body.

Delivering drugs in very small, precise dosage volumes not only avoids spillage, it can also decrease tearing and blinking, thereby limiting dilution of the medication. The hand-held system evaluated in the study could deliver precise, single-digit microliter doses of medication to the eye's surface within 80 milliseconds, quicker than the blink of an eye.

To test the safety and effectiveness of microdosing, the researchers delivered a common drug ophthalmologists use to dilate the pupil and examine the back of the eye. Microdosing was used to treat one group of patients, while a conventional eye dropper was used to deliver the drug to another group.

They found that high-precision microdosing dilated the pupil as well as the conventional eye dropper method. At the same time, microdosed patients showed lower levels of the drug in their bloodstream. They also experienced a significantly lower rate of side effects - 8 percent compared with 66 percent for patients treated with conventional eyedrops.

"We believe that we have developed a viable 21st-century microdosing technology to transform the 100-year old eyedropper paradigm with modern, high-precision smart technology," said lead researcher, Tsontcho Ianchulev, M.D. MPH, professor of ophthalmology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He is also the director of the Ophthalmic Innovation Technology Program at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai Hospital.

Dr. Ianchulev expects additional clinical trials to begin within the next 12 months to further evaluate the technology for treating patients with glaucoma, as well as for pupil dilation. He believes the first micro-therapeutic formulations could be available for consumers by 2020.

Dr. Ianchulev noted that the microdosing approach could eventually be used to treat a wide variety of eye diseases and conditions, such as dry eye, allergic eye disease, and infections. He also believes that the smart electronics of the platform will be used for digital health applications, such as compliance monitoring by both and physicians.

Explore further: Timed-release glaucoma drug insert shows promise as alternative to daily drops

Related Stories

Timed-release glaucoma drug insert shows promise as alternative to daily drops

May 5, 2016
A new device that slowly releases eye medication may one day be a promising option for the many glaucoma patients who struggle with administering their own daily prescription eye drops. New research shows a medicated silicone ...

Drug-dispensing contact lens effectively lowers eye pressure in glaucoma model

August 29, 2016
A contact lens designed to deliver medication gradually to the eye could improve outcomes for patients with conditions requiring treatment with eye drops, which are often imprecise and difficult to self-administer. In a study ...

Chemical engineer's contacts could help treat glaucoma

June 22, 2015
A McMaster PhD candidate has harnessed a component naturally found in tears to develop a contact lens-based drug delivery system for glaucoma patients.

Microdosing: Updating its role in developing new medicines

January 23, 2013
One of yesterday's most promising new tools for speeding the development of new medicines—"microdosing"—has found niches in that process today, and they include uses unanticipated a decade ago. That topic, an update on ...

Researchers use breakthrough technology to detect glaucoma progression

October 14, 2016
In a first of its kind study, Mount Sinai researchers are using optimal coherence tomography (OCT) angiography to look at the earliest stages of glaucoma and identify characteristic patterns of different forms of glaucoma ...

Researchers identify strategies to optimize statin treatment for muscle symptoms

August 28, 2017
Statins are highly effective for preventing heart attacks by reducing low-density lipoprotein or "bad" cholesterol. However, 10 to 20 percent of patients taking statins report muscle-related symptoms including aches, pains ...

Recommended for you

Scientists engineer drug delivery device that treats glaucoma directly inside the eye

November 23, 2017
Glaucoma, which affects over 60 million people worldwide, can seem easy to treat: medicated eye drops can be used to ease the buildup of fluid in the eye that underlies the condition. If glaucoma is caught early, eye drops ...

Research reveals biological mechanism of a leading cause of childhood blindness

November 16, 2017
Scientists at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute (VTCRI) have revealed the pathology of cells and structures stricken by optic nerve hypoplasia, a leading cause of childhood blindness in developed nations.

Genetic treatment for blindness may soon be reality

November 11, 2017
Patients who had lost their sight to an inherited retinal disease could see well enough to navigate a maze after being treated with a new gene therapy, according to research presented today at AAO 2017, the 121st Annual Meeting ...

Study finds donor corneas can be safely preserved for longer period

November 10, 2017
Results from a large, national clinical trial show that corneal donor tissue can be safely stored for 11 days without negatively impacting the success of transplantation surgery to restore vision in people with diseases of ...

Exploring the genetics of glaucoma and retinal development

November 10, 2017
Guillermo Oliver, PhD, the Thomas D. Spies Professor of Lymphatic Metabolism, recently published two studies related to the eye, one on retinal formation and the other on the genetics behind glaucoma.

Scientists discover potential treatment to stop glaucoma in its tracks

November 6, 2017
Vision scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Toronto have discovered that naturally occurring molecules known as lipid mediators have the potential to halt the progression of glaucoma, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.