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New eye drop prevents corneal scarring

16/01/2019By Callum Glennen
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Scientists have developed an eye drop that reduces scarring to the cornea during treatments for eye infections and trauma.

According to pre-clinical research published by scientists at the University of Birmingham, the eye drops utilise a fluid gel containing the wound-healing protein decorin to reduce scarring. The fluid in the drop is designed to hold the decorin on the surface of the eye, acting as a form of ‘therapeutic bandage’ that promotes scarless healing.

“The fluid gel is a novel material that can transition between a solid and liquid state,” Professor Liam Grover, one of the lead scientists on the project, said.

“This means it contours itself to the surface of the eye, is retained there, and is only slowly removed by blinking.”

Lisa Hill
Lisa Hill
“The anti-scarring eye drop has the potential to vastly improve outcomes for patients with eye infection and trauma.”
Lisa Hill, University of Birmingham

The researchers found the treatment effectively protects the eye while it’s sterilised in treatment and prevents the visual ‘hazing’ some patients are left with due to a scarred cornea. In particular, the drops have a potential application for patients undergoing treatment for pseudomonas aeruginosa.

It’s also been shown that the fluid gel has a therapeutic effect in its own right. By forming a protective barrier on surface of the eye, the drops prevent further damage caused by blinking.

“The anti-scarring eye drop has the potential to vastly improve outcomes for patients with eye infection and trauma,” Dr Lisa Hill, from the University’s Institute of Clinical Sciences, said.

“It could also help save many people’s sight, particularly in the developing world where surgical interventions such as corneal transplants are not available.”

University of Birmingham Enterprise has patented the fluid gel, and is currently testing and refining it further. The study was published in npj Regenerative Medicine.

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