Although conventional, the current ocular drug delivery system takes an immense toll on patients in need long-term therapy. Many individuals are plagued with conditions such as persistent wounds to the eye and intraocular pressure (IOP). Current treatment options involve eye drops and injections that must be administered daily, often multiple times a day. Repeated treatments begin to add up, proving to be incredibly expensive and many patients find it difficult to adhere to treatment therapy. Some individuals are limited by anxiety, tremors, and poor dexterity, inhibiting with their ability to comply with therapeutic measures. In a recent survey, they found that at a minimum, 30% of patients are not taking at least one of their ocular medications.
Ophthalmologists have been searching for an easier and efficient solution to correct the issues observed with drugs that need constant administration. The ocular drug market is expected to witness an expansion in the development of sustained-released drug delivery to combat the current issues associate with the traditional therapy options.
Sustained-released drug delivery will revolutionize how we treat diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, by not only improving, but reducing drug administration, patient burden, and overall cost of treatment. This delivery system works by providing the eye with an even and slow dispersal of drugs, creating a more efficient system of drug administration. A great deal of potential could arise for this delivery method, as Ophthalmologists will be able to administer injections to their patients every few months, combatting the poor patient adherence that has been of rising concern.
The essential features of an efficiently developed ocular delivery system include, the ability to permeate ocular barriers, sustained drug release, and augmented bioavailability. Regardless if treatment is designated for the front or the back of the eye, it is imperative that efficacious drug concentrations reach problematic areas. Bioavailability has been a major issue especially surrounding topical drops. It has been estimated that less than 5% of ocular drop medication reaches targeted areas. In ophthalmic formulation, sustained release and longer retention allow for improved bioavailability, ensuring drug penetration reaches its full potential
Research and development for retinal diseases continues to grow and sustained-released drugs could be the path to fruitful solutions to chronic conditions. The pipeline of sustained-released systems has become expansive, and many different methods are in development. Researchers have been developing contact lenses that are covered in a film composed of a drug-polymer that allow for the slow and steady release of glaucoma medication. Allergan, for example, is developing a bimatoprost implant that is biodegradable. The technology enables the slow dispersal of an ocular drug and because of its biodegradable quality, patients can avoid having to get the implant removed.
Another promising example for sustained released eye drugs are micropumps. The micropump is implanted directly into the eye and the release of an ocular drug is controlled through a wireless device. There are many other novel drug delivery mechanisms that involve technologies such as microneedles, liposomes, nanoparticles, dendrimers, nanomicelles, and nanowafers.
With the high demand for enhanced treatment options and the advancements made through research and development, sustained released ocular drugs have immense potential and set to expand the ophthalmology market.