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UNSW cements partnership to develop novel therapeutic contact lenses

Sydney researchers are collaborating with Uka Tarsadia University in India to investigate using contact lenses as drug delivery systems for common ocular diseases like glaucoma, dry eye and myopia.

Professor Mark Willcox from UNSW’s School of Optometry and Vision Science was integral to establishing the partnership.

Mark Willcox.

“Ocular diseases are usually treated using eye drops, but unfortunately these often do not deliver enough drug or have the drug resident on the eye for long enough,” Willcox said.

Using contact lenses to deliver the drugs can overcome these problems and may be able to treat diseases such as glaucoma, dry eyes, conjunctivitis, myopia development and macular degeneration, he said.

Uka Tarsadia is a private university established in 2011; the affiliated Maliba Pharmacy College is the centre of collaboration with UNSW.

Dr Furqan Maulvi, who is from Maliba Pharmacy College and has published several key papers on contact lenses and drug delivery, said he was looking forward to working with UNSW to develop novel therapeutic contact lenses to treat anterior and posterior eye diseases.

The partnership involves staff and students from both universities going on exchange to work on the collaborative project.

Academics will participate in research, co-supervise postgraduate students, and give lectures and tutorials in the research area.

Students will also work alongside clinical scientists in emerging areas of research in contact lenses, drug delivery and the ocular surface.

Dr Alex Hui from UNSW’s School of Optometry and Vision said the partnership would allow for complementary collaborations between engineers, pharmacists, optometrists and chemists.

“It comes at a critical time where research interest in managing diseases such as dry eye and myopia development is increasing both from clinicians and patients,” he said.