The future of eye care looks set to involve specialized, drug-filled contact lenses. Ja Food and Drug Administration a approved a new type of contact that releases an antihistamine to help prevent itchy eyes caused by allergies for up to 12 hours. Similar treatments for other eye diseases may soon be in place.
The antihistamine is called ketotifen, and it has been used since the 1970s. Ketotifen is a common treatment for itchy eyes caused by an allergy, but until now it was administered by eye drops. This new product, developed by Johnson & Johnson, will carry the Acuvue brand Theravision with ketotifen. It is the first FDA-approved treatment to use a concept known as the drug-eluting contact lens.
In clinical trials, the Theravision lens carried out better than a placebo lens and reliably relieved itchy eyes in as little as three minutes, while working as long as 12 hours. Bbecause it is also a corrective lens, people can wear it to help with their eyesight as they would any other daily disposable contact.
“These new lenses may help keep more people wearing contact lenses because they relieve itchy allergic eyes for up to 12 hours, without the need for allergy drops, and provide vision correction,” said Brian Pall, director of clinical sciences at Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, in a statement.
Scientists worked on drug eluting contact lens technology for decades. Ideally, these treatments would provide a more consistent dose of medication than eye drops and cause less discomfort than needles or other invasive delivery methods. But it proved to be a challenge to find the right combination of materials that would allow the contacts to function normally while slowly releasing their drug payload, at least until recently. This new FDA the endorsement now appears to be the first of many.
As reported by Wiredthere are various pharmaceutical companies and research teams who hope to develop similar treatments for eye conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma, including Johnson & Johnson. JThe next step could be a more durable lenss that can dose people over a period of days rather than hours. IIt will still take time for this first product to reach American audiences, but it is already available in Canada and Japan.
In other contact lens news this week, a company called Mojo Vision reports that it has a prototype for a augmented reality contact lens designed to overlay a display on top of the real world view. Although it’s not yet an actual product, the company says its technology could one day benefit partially blind people, helping them see things like traffic signs better, and athletes, who could use the on-eye display to track performance.