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Developing contact lenses to deliver anesthesia

In an effort to reduce the pain felt after eye surgery, scientists at multiple institutions are working to create contact lenses capable of supplying anesthetic medication at a consistent rate. As CNET reports, a team of researchers at University of Florida have made a notable advancement in the area and have identified a way to extend the time of release of anesthetics delivered by the lenses. Elizabeth Armstrong Moore writes:

The trick, chemist Anuj Chauhan and colleagues report in the journal Langmuir, is vitamin E.

By adding "highly hydrophobic" vitamin E aggregates to silicone hydrogel lenses for distribution of three commonly used anesthetics post-surgery, they found that the aggregates acted as barriers; by not interacting so readily with water on the surface of the eye, this barrier was able to extend the release time of the anesthetics from just a few hours to multiple days.

This isn't the first time contact lenses have been used to distribute drugs, or even that vitamin E has been used to slow the release of drugs in lenses. But it is an early sign of success for the specific anesthetics used following laser eye surgery.

Photo by eyesogreen

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