Bandage soft contact lenses made of hydrophilic polymers are widely used to protect eyes with various problems, including recurrent corneal erosions and epithelial defects after corneal transplantation or refractive surgery. Although these bandage soft contact lenses may enhance healing while allowing the eye to remain open, they can be inserted and removed only in the ophthalmologist's office. Additionally, soft contact lenses may harbor pathogens, which can cause ocular infection.
The idea of using bandage soft contact lenses to deliver drugs to the cornea was proposed as far back as 1971 by Kaufman (1). In this procedure, the hydrophilic lens was placed on the cornea and the drug was administered topically onto the surface of the lens. The contact lens was thought to act as a carrier vehicle, binding the drug and releasing it slowly, thereby increasing retention of the therapeutic agent in the tear film and at the corneal surface. However, Busin and Spitznas (2) and Matoba and McCulley (3) showed that hydrogen contact lenses hydrated with drug are nearly devoid of drug after only 1 or 2 hours on the cornea. These soft contact lenses, therefore, are not the ideal approach for sustained, continuous ocular drug delivery.
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