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New Contact Lenses Could Improve Glaucoma Treatment
Date:3/24/2010

They come loaded with vitamin E, to help more medicine get to cornea, researcher says

WEDNESDAY, March 24 (HealthDay News) -- A team of researchers has created special contact lenses for glaucoma patients that come loaded with vitamin E, using a design that could essentially lengthen the amount of time a medication bathes an afflicted eye.

This strategy could reduce the significant waste of medication that happens with traditional eye drops, but so far the concept has only been tested in beagles.

"Currently, the way we deliver medication to the eye is very bad and very ineffective," said study author Anuj Chauhan, an associate professor in the department of chemical engineering at the University of Florida in Gainesville. "And this approach is wonderful because it delivers drugs for a long period of time."

Chauhan and his colleagues are to present their findings Wednesday at the American Chemical Society annual meeting in San Francisco.

According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, glaucoma starts as a symptom-less disease that, through damage to the optic nerve, can ultimately rob a patient of his or her sight. The disease accounts for approximately 9 percent to 12 percent of all blindness in the United States, and the World Health Organization notes that it is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide.

There is no cure for the estimated 4 million Americans who have the disease, and once vision is lost, it cannot be restored. However, treatments -- including medicine and surgery -- do slow down or halt disease progression.

Vitamin E is thought to aid vision because of its antioxidant capacities, and several studies have already explored the notion that it could help combat glaucoma when used in conjunction with prescription drugs.

The current research focused on contact lenses that can be worn for up to a month.

The authors note that their study has already
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