Researchers are looking into ways to treat eye injuries, potentially accelerating the healing process of severe corneal wounds.
Eye injuries are tricky to treat and can cause serious complications down the road, sometimes with the very little possibility of making a full recovery. Now, Queensland University teams have created a contact lens that operates as a bandage for your eye.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, just at work alone, people experience more than 20,000 workplace injuries each year costing over $300 million a year of lost productivity. Nevertheless, generally speaking, according to the American Association for Ophthalmology and Strabismus, close to 50% of the injuries occur in sports and recreational activities.
Cellular Eye Healing
Research lead Damien Harkin from QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation in collaboration with the Queensland Eye Institute has developed a bandage eye-contact with a range of “wound-healing factors”. The eye bandage consists of cells with special wound healing properties.
Known as limbal mesenchymal stromal cells (L-MSC), these cells that are recovered after routine corneal transplants have the ability to provide immediate benefits to the wounded surface of an eye. According to the researchers, upon arriving at a hospital with your injury you could have the contact lens within hours or if you have been dealing with a chronic eye injury the lens could be used to treat it.
As stated by Professor Harkin, “Our therapy could provide welcome relief for patients suffering from chronic conditions such as corneal ulcers and persistent surface defects that haven’t responded to conventional therapies,” he continues, “The new treatment could also become useful as a part of the first-line therapy in the management of acute eye injuries experienced in the workplace or at home arising from exposure to caustic chemicals, scalding liquids or excessive heat.”
The biggest challenge right now for Harkin and his team is finding ways to collect and provide limbal mesenchymal stromal cells for the contact lenses. At the moment, the treatment for the bandages is prepared using amniotic membrane donated from human placentas. A process that is both expensive and not time effective.
Harkin hopes to have a “bank of well-characterized and tested donor L-MSC cells” available immediately to make the contact lenses a cost-effective solution for clinics.
Though the research currently looks promising, there still needs to be more research completed before treatments can be issued to the public. Nevertheless, these eye bandage treatments could be available in a couple of years.