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Nanodrop Could Correct Refractory Eye Conditions Without Surgery
An Israeli ophthalmologist has developed an eye drop capable of repairing the cornea and improving near- and far-sightedness.
Dr. David Smadja said the eye drops could be used to treat myopia, hyperopia, and other refractory conditions, and could even replace multifocal lenses which allow people to see objects from different distances.
The project involved analyzing pigs’ eyes for refractive errors before and after installation of these “nanodrops” filled with various concentrations of synthetic nanoparticles. Nanoparticles are microscopic particles that act as a bridge between bulk materials and molecular structures, and they make up a large body of scientific research due to the wide variety of potential applications.
Nanodrops work by modifying the corneal refractive index. Refractive errors occur when light isn’t focused correctly onto the retina due to the eye shape. The nanodrop technology uses a laser to stamp an optical pattern onto the outer layer of the cornea based upon the required correction.
Laser stamping takes only a few seconds and the stamped shape varies to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, or loss of accommodation ability. Together with the nanodrops, the stamping changes the refractive index and modifies the trajectory of light passing through the cornea.
If the results prove successful in humans, applications could include using a smartphone app to scan the eyes, measuring the refraction, creating a laser pattern, and then stamping that optical pattern onto the corneal surface of the eyes.
The app would “stamp” numerous adjacent pulses onto the cornea in a quick and painless manner. The tiny corneal spots created by the stamp allow the synthetic nanoparticles to enter the eye and modify the optical power at the desired correction. Smadja compared the process to “writing” something on the ground using fuel. Once the fuel dries, if you throw a flame onto the ground, the fire would take the shape of the writing.
It isn’t clear yet how humans would respond to the nanodrops, or whether they might prove toxic to humans. Additionally, it’s not clear how often the drops need to be applied or how much of the solution is required in order to produce results. In pigs, the correction lasted about two hours. Because the new treatment is noninvasive and does not remove tissue, it suits most eyes, and it will expand the scope of patients who benefit from the treatment.
The National Eye Institute reports that both children and adults suffer from nearsightedness or farsightedness. While farsightedness — the condition in which close objects are blurry but far objects are normal — occurs in about 10 percent of Americans, nearsightedness affects about 42 percent of Americans.
Related research in London studied the possibility of loading nanoparticles with the age-related macular degeneration drug Avastin to treat patients without injecting drugs into the eyes.