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Medical Breakthrough from Mercy Research & Development Can Protect Wounded Warriors' Sight and Help Everyday Americans
Date:6/21/2013

Springfield, MO (PRWEB) June 21, 2013

When an improvised explosive device blows up in the face of an American soldier, medics rush to treat life-threatening injuries. That often means injuries to the eyes, which account for nearly 40 percent of all war wounds, can go untreated for days, frequently resulting in blindness.

Now, scientists at Mercy Research and Development (R&D) in Springfield, Mo., have a solution, thanks to a $4.8 million research grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Mercy scientists have developed prototype contact lenses capable of delivering medication. They’re designed for medics to apply to soldiers’ eyes right on the battlefield - immediately stabilizing the eye and preserving vision.

“This research project is the most personal thing I’ve done in my career,” said Dr. Shachar Tauber, Mercy section chair of ophthalmology and optometry and principal investigator on this research and product development. “My father was injured in war, causing blindness in one eye and diminished sight in the other. Making sure our soldiers not only live, but live to literally see their families again, is so important to me.”

Other researchers have been working on similar projects for decades, but Dr. Tauber looked at it from a different angle. He had the idea to apply a Nobel prize-winning breakthrough - electrospun polymer fibers - to the world of ophthalmology. “We decided to impregnate those fibers with medication,” he explained. “More than a few experts said it couldn’t be done, but we now have the test results and the patent to prove the science works.”

Mercy researchers have developed several lenses with different uses. One lens can simultaneously deliver a steroid and an antibiotic to reduce swelling and fight infection for up to seven days. When wounds involve lacerations to the cornea, another product works as a sealant to hold the wound shut for up to three days, while also d
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