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Int J Hyperthermia. 2012;28(4):405-18. doi: 10.3109/02656736.2012.665566.

Therapeutic applications of ultrasound in ophthalmology.

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  • 1Inserm, U1032, Lyon, F-69003, France.


Therapeutic ultrasound, although less well known than ultrasound for diagnostic imaging, has become a topic of growing interest in ophthalmology. High intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) for the treatment of glaucoma and ultrasonic drug delivery are the two main areas of research and potential clinical applications. For the treatment of glaucoma, the specific advantage of HIFU, particularly when compared to the laser, is that the energy can be focused through optically opaque media, especially through the sclera which is a strongly light-scattering medium. HIFU is therefore a possible method for partial coagulation of the ciliary body (an anatomical structure responsible for the production of the liquid filling the eye) and, hence, reducing intraocular pressure and the risk of glaucoma. Ocular drug bioavailability also remains a challenge, being limited by multiple barriers to drug entry and lacrimal drainage, and making it difficult to achieve a sufficient drug concentration for numerous diseases of the front and back of the eye. As the front wall of the eye (cornea and anterior sclera) is a pathway for topically applied drugs, locally applied ultrasound has been proposed as a way of enhancing the delivery and activity of drugs and genes. Despite the fact that experimental studies seem to confirm the potential benefit of ultrasound ocular drug delivery, there is still a lack of clinical evidence. The aim of this contribution is to provide an update on recent advances in the field of therapeutic ultrasound in ophthalmology.

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