New Timed-Release Glaucoma Drug Shows Promise as Alternative to Drops

For many glaucoma patients, the most inconvenient aspect of the disease is administering daily medicated eye drops that help lower intraocular eye pressure (IOP). Glaucoma refers to a family of diseases that damage the optic nerve due to elevated eye pressure. Increased eye pressure places stress on the optic nerve and causes irreparable damage that can lead to vision loss and eventually blindness.

New studies published in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, show that a medicated silicone ring could offer exciting options for glaucoma sufferers. The device rests on the surface of the eye and can lower eye pressure by about 20 percent over a period of six months.

This is welcome news for the 3 million Americans who are affected by glaucoma. Even though there are many treatments and therapies for glaucoma, it is still one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. Research shows that many patients do not take their eye drops as directed because of forgetfulness or physical challenges such as arthritis. Even worse, half of all patients stop taking their eye drops altogether after one year.

New delivery methods for medication could help decrease the problem of glaucoma-associated vision loss. There are many benefits of the silicone ring. No surgery is required, the ring is customized and fitted to every patient, and it has proven to be well-tolerated and safe.

A new phase of the silicone ring study is expected to begin later in 2016. If the device is approved by the FDA, it could open up some exciting possibilities in the field of ocular therapy. The device could be used to treat other conditions, such as dry eye, allergies and inflammation. Because of the larger surface area of the ring, it could administer several drugs simultaneously (Source: Science Daily).

"In making effective treatments easier for patients, the hope is that we can reduce vision loss from glaucoma, and possibly other diseases," said study author James D. Brandt, M.D., director of the UC Davis Medical Center Glaucoma Service. "What is exciting is that this is just one of several sustained-release drug delivery methods designed to help patients who have trouble taking daily eye drops."