An Israeli medical company has obtained FDA approval for a contact lens designed to facilitate the use of eye drops in the treatment of corneal edema, The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday.
The therapeutic lens, developed by EyeYon, increases the time eye drops remain in the eye to alleviate symptoms associated with corneal edema — including swelling, a build-up of fluid, blurred vision and haziness — that often occur after surgery.
“(Drops) are washed out from the center of the cornea a few seconds after the patient blinks,” Nahum Ferera, CEO of EyeYon explained. “So, this lens has a very unique design that creates a cavity above the center of the cornea that increases contact time (with the eye-drop solution).”
The Hyper-CL lens has dual base curves, eight small holes and a reservoir above the center of the cornea. The holes allow drops and ointments to enter the reservoir under the contact lens, maintain longer contact with the eye and improve the extraction of the excess fluids by osmosis from the cornea.
“Your eye has a membrane which is a layer of cells in the cornea which pumps water out of the cornea,” Dr. Brian Marr, associate professor at Memorial Sloan Kettering and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City told The Media Line. “The cornea is like a dry sponge and the only thing that is keeping it dry is this endothelium (membrane of cells).”
An excess of fluid impairs vision. “Patients have described it as looking through ground glass or like they are in a steam room but there is no steam,” Dr. Marr added.
Currently, the only products to alleviate symptoms from corneal edema are a sodium chloride solution and ointment which are used by patients as they await corneal transplant surgeries.
The FDA clearance will open the U.S. market to the lenses. EyeYon plans to begin marketing the 14-day disposable lenses, which cost $50 each, in the U.S. in 2017.
Currently they are available only in Europe and Asia, where about 1,000 patients are using them.