Looking Ahead: Eye Drop Delivery Technology

1:17 PM

If you can't tell by the subject matter of my last few posts, I have been really inspired by the wave of new technology on the horizon in the eyecare industry.  Whether it is the more universal intrigue of Google Glass or the promise of sophisticated performance goggles that could monitor pulse and heart rate while protecting you from UV damage, our eyes are at the forefront of tomorrow's innovations.  And living where I do, my patients are often telling me about new technologies at the companies they work for before I even hear about them in optometric journals!   Here's another example of a local Raleigh company bringing the ocular world the next wave in advancement:

Corinthian Ophthalmic is a small start up that has received funding to produce the first electronic ocular  dropper.  This device would help solve major issues for patients who take eye drops every day but have trouble either getting the drop in or remembering to do so.  Imagine trying the squeeze a small eye drop bottle when you have arthritis, and then trying to be certain that you actually got one drop out, and in to the eye instead of on your cheek.  Patients will even routinely scratch their corneas when struggling with instilling eye drops!  An electronic drop delivery device could eliminate all of these problems by:

Corinthian's early prototype via
  • controlling the exact size of the drop that enters the eye; preventing wasting of drops which can greatly help with a patient's monthly bills
  • electronic guiding system that would tell the patient when the device is centered to deliver medicine to the eye's surface
  • reminder alarm to tell you when to put the drop in
  • reporting system that your doctor could access to see if you have been using the drops as directed
  • no squeeze necessary, so no difficulties with small bottle size or highly viscous drops getting stuck in the bottle
  • potentially a shake setting that would shake the medication for the patient if needed (studies routinely show that patients do NOT shake their drops on a regular basis when educated to do so by their doctor and on the prescription label)
So far there is no release date for when Corinthian's model will be available to the public.  Independent pharmaceutical companies will be contracting to use the company's electronic dropper for their specific medications, so in the future we may have the option to prescribe bottle version or electronic dropper versions of ocular meds.  Glaucoma medications will likely be the first drugs to really incorporate this technology due to the daily dosing schedule required, but the usefulness of the applicator could eventually find its way into treating post-op inflammation or dry eye.  The hope is that if a patient can be more compliant with taking their medication, it may prevent them from having to take additional medications or pursue other more expensive surgical treatments, thus saving the patient money and increasing the effectiveness of their treatment in addition to making the drop insertion process more convenient overall.  I can't wait for the future.

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