Eye trauma or various infections often lead to impaired vision or even blindness. However, these conditions do not have such an effect in themselves – usually disability occurs due to scar tissue forming in cornea. This outer layer of the eye is transparent, but turns opaque due to scarring. Now scientists from the University of Birmingham have developed eye drops that can reduce scarring and preserve vision.
Interestingly, even today a standard treatment in order to prevent vision loss after trauma or infection is eye drops. They typically contain antibiotics and corticosteroids, which reduce inflammation. Then doctors start using intensive lubrication to prevent further damage. This treatment is quite effective, but many patients still end up with impaired vision due to scars making the cornea not transparent. There are ways to fix this, but they are not entirely safe. For example, cornea transplant is an option, but the procedure itself is cumbersome and there is a risk of failure or rejection.
However, now scientists have created new drops that contain a natural wound-healing protein called Decorin. Medicine itself is a fluid gel rather that a very liquidy drops. Gel is more suitable for this application, because it is able to retain the Decorin on the surface of the eye. Doctors call this effect a ‘therapeutic bandage’, because it covers the damaged eye and promotes scarless healing. Professor Liam Grover, one of the scientists behind this project, said: “The fluid gel is a novel material that can transition between a solid and liquid state. This means it contours itself to the surface of the eye, is retained there, and is only slowly removed by blinking”.
Fluid gel has a therapeutic effect in itself, because it acts as a lubricant, preventing further damage from blinking. Initial tests delivered promising results, but scientists are still working to refine the formula and perfect this novel anti-scarring eye ‘bandage’. Ultimately, this new solution could improve outcomes for patients who suffered eye trauma or infection. In short, it could preserve people’s vision and remove the need of the risky corneal transplantation. In fact, it could become the best solution in areas where corneal transplants are simply not available.
Human eyes are able to heal themselves, but they do not do that perfectly. This means that people suffer from impaired vision due to scarring after eye trauma or severe infections. These drops could at least reduce this risk and preserve vision of thousands of people.
Source: University of Birmingham