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The not-so-naked eye

Eyes.jpg

Maybe it's because my disposable lenses are reaching the end of their lifespan, leaving me squinty and dry-eyed, but I find myself following the latest news in contact lenses today.

What's that? You didn't know about the news-generating possibilities of contacts? Well, the stories are both good and bad.

Bad news first: According to a study covered today in the LA Times health blog, most contact solutions don't kill the amoebae that cause Acanthamoeba keratitis, a serious eye disease with symptoms that include, ahem, "ulceration of the cornea."

Yikes.

Fortunately, the infection only occurs in one or two cases per million contact lens wearers. (Thank you, Centers for Disease Control, for bringing my pulse rate back down.) Still, the study raises questions of whether the FDA should require contact solutions to kill the microscopic bug. In the meantime, despite my near-blindness, I won't be hitting the beach with my contacts in this summer.

Now on to the good news: Harvard researchers are developing a drug-dispensing contact lens. At Wired Science, Hadley Leggett covers the research, which could lead to better drug delivery for patients with blindness-causing glaucoma. (Full disclosure: Hadley is a former SUMC communications office intern.) As of yet, the lens has only been tested in the lab, but the researchers are making plans for animal testing. If the contacts work out, it will be interesting to see what consumers prefer: messy eye drops or a "doughnut-shaped" disc of drugs covering up their baby blues.

Photo by moriza

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