There’s a new eye drop that can treat glaucoma while a person sleeps. It contains a chemical found in cannabis. The newly developed formula is a better alternative to today’s treatment which requires the patient to use it twice a day, and sometimes it is ineffective.
Glaucoma Causes Blindness
Glaucoma is the cause of pressure build-up in the optic nerve, damaging the cells and causing blindness.
The sight loss charity RNIB Scotland spokesperson said that any new discovery that brings an improvement on the treatment of glaucoma is great news, but people should make regular eye examinations to detect the early stages of the disease and keep it in check:
“Glaucoma damages the peripheral vision first and up to 40 percent of your sight may be lost before you notice a difference. An eye test is the only way to detect glaucoma in its early stages so it’s vital that everyone does attend for an eye check-up at least every two years.”
This discovery is also great for other eye disorders, like macular degeneration.
Why Aren’t Eye Drops Very Effective?
A biomedical engineer at British Columbia University in Canada, Professor Vikramaditya Yadav, said:
“Medicated eye drops are commonly used to treat glaucoma – but they’re often poorly absorbed. Less than 5 percent of the drug stays in the eye because most of the drops just roll off the eye. Even when the drug is absorbed it may fail to reach the back of the eye where it can start repairing damaged neurons and relieving the pressure that characterizes glaucoma.”
But the team that has developed these drops have made a hydrogel filled with nanoparticles of cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). These particles are found in marijuana plant and relieve symptoms of glaucoma.
After using the hydrogel on donated pig corneas that are similar to the corneas of humans, they saw that the gel was absorbed fast and that it got the back of the eye.
The team is now working to produce more molecules of cannabinoid by using genetically engineered microbes. Their gel is described in Drug Delivery & Translational Research journal. For more information, check Maryam Kabiri et al, ‘A stimulus-responsive, in situ-forming, nanoparticle-laden hydrogel for ocular drug delivery’.