Eye Drops Could Treat Eye Disease
Scientists have developed a way of delivering drugs to treat a common eye disease as eye drops rather than injections.
If clinical trials are successful, the development could mean patients would be able to administer their own treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
AMD is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK. It usually affects people when they reach their 50s or 60s. It can significantly impact vision, and can get worse if it isn’t treated.
The condition affects the central part of the retina, called the macular. The main symptom is a blurred area or a gap in the middle part of a person’s vision. People may also notice colours appearing less bright and words disappearing when reading. The condition can make reading, watching TV or even recognising people very difficult.
AMD can be treated with drugs that are injected into the eye. These are known as ‘anti-VEGD’ drugs. These drugs can stop sight loss if they are used in early-stage AMD. People usually have to go into hospital each month to have these injections.
The procedure can be uncomfortable and occasionally painful.
Scientists from the University of Birmingham have invented a way of delivering these drugs as eye drops.
Research published previously demonstrated that the eye drops had the same effect as injections when they were injected into the eyes of rats. Now the scientists have tested the eye drops on the eyes of rabbits and pigs, whose larger eyes are more like those of humans.
The eye drops use a technology called ‘cell-penetrating peptide’, which can deliver the drug to the retina (the back of the eye).
The next stage is for clinical trials to be carried out using the eye drops.
Convenience of self-administration
If successful, the eye drops could mean that patients would be able to administer their AMD treatment themselves, meaning they wouldn’t have to go into hospital. It would also reduce the potential complications that can happen with injections into the eye.
Professor Robert Scott from the University of Birmingham said: “Cell-penetrating peptides will drive the next generation of treatment for people with AMD.
“They will be transformative for patients who currently have to organise their lives around monthly clinic visits for uncomfortable intraocular injections, who will in the future have the convenience of self-administering their medical treatment.”
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