BLOG: Therapeutic contact lenses for drug and cell delivery: Dream or reality? 
Professor Lyndon Jones

A keynote address at the forthcoming BCLA conference will hear it is “only a matter of time” until a contact lens is able to deliver medication directly to the eye.

Professor Lyndon Jones, research chair at the University of Waterloo, will discuss the potential for contact lenses to be used far beyond their current capability – with ocular drug delivery cited as an ‘achievable ambition’.

Currently, topical eye drops remain the most common method for treating ocular disease, and they are readily accepted by patients due to their convenience and cost effectiveness. 

However, several barriers prevent the effective and efficient delivery of medication from eye drops, including dilution by the tear film, dispersion and drainage due to blinking and tear flow, non-specific absorption and variable drug penetration. 

This results in less than 10 per cent of the medication within an eye drop reaching the target tissue and exerting a therapeutic effect, with the remainder being either spilled onto the external ocular surface or absorbed systemically. 

As a result, lenses which allow the release of anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory agents and drugs that assist with corneal wound healing and repair would be of particular value in primary care practice. 

Professor Jones said: “Many groups around the globe are actively looking at developing such technologies, using a variety of novel approaches based on nanotechnology, and lenses are already in clinical trials. 

“Based upon the rapidly expanding literature in this field and the level of interest, it appears to be just a matter of time before such devices become available”
A keynote address to be held on Saturday, June 10 will take a look at some of these innovations and consider how these efforts will impact the contact lens practice of tomorrow.
The conference will see the BCLA mark its 40th anniversary by looking to the future of contact lenses as well as celebrating the industry’s proud past.

Hundreds of eye care professionals are expected to attend the event, which will include world-renowned guest speakers, hands-on workshops and a 40th Anniversary awards dinner.

The conference, due to be held at the ACC in Liverpool on June 9th-11th, is one of the biggest of its kind within the contact lens industry and offers delegates the chance to keep up to date with the latest research, trends and best practice.

For more information on the Clinical Conference and exhibition and to see the full programme of lectures and workshops click here.