“Retina oedema is the most common cause for loss of sight in diabetics and thus one of the main reasons for loss of sight in the world. Our study focuses on treating retina oedema caused by diabetes with eye drops rather than sticking a needle in the eye to insert medication,” says Einar Stefánsson, ophthalmologist and Professor of ophthalmology.
Stefánsson is referring to a study he and Þorsteinn Loftsson, Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Iceland, are working on. The study aims to make eye medication more efficient. “Today we inject medication into the patients’ eyes with syringes which is obviously not an acceptable method,” says Stefánsson who has worked systematically on research on blindness caused by glaucoma and damages caused by diabetes, and is well known internationally for his work. Stefánsson has received numerous awards for his research and was selected honorary scientists of Landspítali - the National University Hospital of Iceland last year. Stefánsson and Loftsson’s idea centres upon eliminating syringes and the discomfort and risk they involve. “Ordinary eye drops only deliver three to five per cent of the medication into the eye. We try to increase the percentage to 50% by using so-called cyclodextrin nano-particles as ferries for the medication,” says Stefánsson. By use of nanotechnology the nano-particles; invisible to the naked eye; ferry the medication into the eye.
The results of this study have already received global attenion; but an article based on clinical study on the technology was published recently in an established scientific journal. “Japanese collaborators made a study on our eye drops that shows that they improve sight and reduce oedema in diabetics’ retinas,” says Stefánsson. He adds that this technology is now patented in the United States.
Stefánsson hopes that better technology will improve both the health and quality of life in patients with retina diseases. It will be possible to treat retina diseases with eye drops and thus patients can replace receiving medication by a needle in the eye with eye drops. There is no need to expand on the quality of life involved. “There is also a possibility that the entrepreneurial company Oculis; that owns the patent and is among others, owned by the Landspítali – University Hospital and the University of Iceland can profit considerably in the future from a patent on this method of administrating medication into the eye.”