New ‘bandage’ contact lens aims to boost corneal treatment

Sydney: Australian researchers have developed a new therapeutic contact lens that acts as a bandage for eye surface injuries, an advance that aims to significantly improve treatment for major corneal injuries.

The “bandage” would consist of cells with special wound-healing properties, with the cells “isolated from donor eye tissue and subsequently attached to the inner surface of a special type of contact lens”, Xinhua news agency quoted Damien Harkin, Professor at the Queensland University of Technology.

“The donor cells are readily accessible from tissue that is usually discarded after routine corneal transplants,” Harkin said.

“Based upon preliminary data we believe that the donor cells release a range of wound-healing factors that encourage repair of the eye’s surface.”

The lenses could be available within hours of patients arriving at clinics with either recently acquired or chronic damage to their eye’s surface, he said.

“Our therapy could provide welcome relief for patients suffering from chronic conditions such as corneal ulcers and persistent surface defects that haven’t responded to conventional therapies,” Harkin said.

“The new treatment could also become useful as a part of the first-line therapy in the management of acute eye injuries experienced in the work place or at home arising from exposure to caustic chemicals, scalding liquids or excessive heat.”

The new treatment could be available to patients within as little as a few years, subject to completion of rigorous clinical trials, Harkin noted.