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Researchers Developing Contact Lens to Fight Dry Eye Syndrome

The CyteSolutions Lens team hopes to take the prototype to clinical trials.

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The CyteSolutions Lens, developed by Pitt engineering graduate student researcher Alexis Nolfi along with researchers Vishal Jhanji of the School of Medicine and Mangesh Kulkarni and Bryan Brown being tested in the lab. (Tom Altany/University of Pittsburgh)

Researchers in Pennsylvania are developing a contacts lens intended to combat dry eye syndrome.

The CyteSolutions Lens is a silicone-hydrogel-based contact lens coated with natural biopolymers — organic molecular structures — containing a drug that targets inflammatory dry eye pathways “not targeted by any other current treatments,” according to a press item from the University of Pittsburgh.

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“The coating is only activated and degraded whenever it makes contact with the surface of your eye, because there are enzymes in your eyes that work to degrade the polymers we use,” said Alexis Nolfi, a graduate bioengineering student researcher in the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering. “This allows the slow and safe release of drugs over a period of hours or even days as opposed to drops that almost immediately fall out of or drain away from your eyes.”

Nolfi has been dealing with dry eye for several years, and the eye drop treatments she had been taking were only working temporarily, so she was using eye drops multiple times a day.

“It’s been pretty frustrating and borderline debilitating,” said Nolfi. “I had been using artificial tears every night and all through the day. I still use them all the time and haven’t been getting adequate relief, and I fight with my insurance company to cover prescription eye drop treatments.”

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When she went to visit her eye doctor, Vishal Jhanji, in 2018, the two began discussing the need for better treatment options for dry eye syndrome.

“Dry eye is the most common reason patients come into our office,” said Jhanji, a professor of ophthalmology in Pitt’s School of Medicine. “She (Nolfi) had been using eye drops 10 to 15 times a day.”

Nolfi decided to experiment with contact lenses given to her by Jhanji to develop a new therapy tool and drug delivery system.

“There is a definite need for innovation and ways to deliver drugs to the surface of the eye,” Jhanji said. “We’re not looking to simply replenish the eye; we’re trying to tackle the root cause of this problem.”

Nolfi and Jhanji, along with Swanson School researchers Mangesh Kulkarni and Bryan Brown, recently won one of three $100,000 grand prizes at the 2019 Pitt Innovation Challenge, hosted by Pitt’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute, to further advance their innovation.

The CyteSolutions Lens team hopes to take its prototype to clinical trials and will ramp up studies thanks to the competition’s funding. The researchers said anyone who uses contact lenses would be a good candidate to try CyteSolutions Lens.

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“We don’t expect this lens to feel any different from standard soft contact lenses, and they’re natural with no chemical crosslinking,” said Jhanji.

Pitt’s Innovation Institute, the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the UPMC Eye Center assisted with research on the CyteSolutions Lens.

Credit: Pittwire

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at editor@invisionmag.com.

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LASIK Should Be Banned, Says FDA Adviser

He regrets voting to approve the treatment.

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A retired U.S. Food and Drug Administration adviser says LASIK eye surgery should be removed from the market.

Morris Waxler voted to approve to treatment, but now wishes he hadn’t, CBS News reports. He has re-examined the data.

“Essentially we ignored the data on vision distortions that persisted for years,” he told CBS.

His analysis suggests that 10 percent to 30 percent of patients experience complications. He asked the FDA in 2011 to issue a voluntary recall of the treatment, but the FDA declined to do so.

The FDA recently told CBS that it “has not found any new safety concerns associated with LASIK devices.”

CBS News quoted several patients saying they’d been harmed by LASIK.

Abraham Rutner, for example, said that he had double vision and that “around the lights [was] like having starbursts.” He notes, however, that his vision is improved by approximately 90 percent.

Experts say pre-surgical screening is crucial to avoiding LASIK complications.

The key lies in “knowing who to operate on and who not to operate on and there are people who really should not have this procedure,” Dr. Jules Winokur told CBS News.

The FDA has issued an advisory on risks and how to find find the right doctor for LASIK.

Read more at CBS News

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Video: Adorable Cat Melts Hearts By Trying on Eyewear for Children

Kids see that ‘if she can wear hers, they can wear them too.’

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A rescue cat in Pennsylvania is getting attention for her role in making children feel comfortable with their eyeglasses.

Truffles happily wears brightly colored frames to set a good example for the young patients of A Child’s Eyes in Mechanicsburg, the Daily Mail reports.

“If a child is feeling a bit nervous I ask Truffles if she wants to show them her glasses,” says Danielle Crull, owner of the business. “When they see Truffles wearing them it’s a really good thing and shows that if she can wear hers, they can wear them too.”

A video of the cat trying on eyewear has been viewed millions of times.

Watch the video:

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Several Eyecare Drugs in Short Supply, FDA Says

They include staple items.

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Thirteen ophthalmic drugs or products are currently in a state of shortage, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

They include solutions, ointments, emulsions, suspensions and injections, the American Optometric Association reports. Another four ophthalmic products were recently discontinued altogether.

The FDA claims in a new report that older, lower-cost drugs face supply troubles far more often than brand-name options, AOA reports. Among the ophthalmic drugs or products in shortage are staple items such as fluorescein strips and solutionsdilation dropsglaucoma medicationsantibiotics and antivirals.

According to AOA:

Published Oct. 29 by an FDA-convened inter-agency Drug Shortages Task Force, the report, “Drug Shortages: Root Causes and Potential Solutions,” analyzed 163 drugs that went into shortage from 2013 to 2017 and found the majority were “financially unattractive drugs” for manufacturers. Of the 163 drugs, 109 (67%) had generic versions on the market and had a median time since first approval of nearly 35 years. So many years off patent, these drugs sold for a median per unit price of only $8.73, the FDA notes.

AOA Chief Public Health Officer Michael Duenas, OD, said, “A doctor of optometry, in their public health role, should monitor services and needed supplies to determine that they are useful and accessible to all individuals within their community who may need that particular service or supply. Doctors of optometry are encouraged to report deficiencies to the AOA and agencies overseeing shortages, such as FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) Drug Shortage Program at drugshortages@fda.hhs.gov.”

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