Scientists at the University of Birmingham have developed a novel eye drop that rapidly reduces sight-threatening scarring to the surface of the eye.
The surface of the eye (the cornea) is usually transparent, but scars resulting from eye infection or trauma make it opaque causing blurred vision or in extreme cases complete blindness.
The Birmingham scientists, have developed the eye drop which consists of a fluid gel loaded with a natural wound-healing protein called Decorin. Research shows that within a matter of days the eye drop speeds healing, reduces scarring and improves corneal transparency.
The current standard of care for eye infection are eye drops containing antibiotics and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, followed by intensive lubrication to prevent further damage to the eye during blinking. These treatments effectively sterilize the eye, although some patients are left with visual 'hazing' due to scars on the cornea.
The only option to correct this is costly and cumbersome surgical interventions, such as corneal transplants, which are fraught with risks of failure or rejection.
Professor Ann Logan said: "This innovative fluid gel in the eye drop is designed to retain the Decorin on the surface of the eye, and form a 'therapeutic bandage' that promotes scarless healing.""The fluid gel contours itself to the surface of the eye, is retained there, and is only slowly removed by blinking."
"The anti-scarring eye drop has the potential to vastly improve outcomes for patients with eye infection and trauma. It could also help save many people's sight, particularly in the developing world where surgical interventions such as corneal transplants are not available."