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Int J Pharm. 2005 Mar 23;292(1-2):95-117. Epub 2005 Jan 22.

Dispersion of microemulsion drops in HEMA hydrogel: a potential ophthalmic drug delivery vehicle.

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  • 1Chemical Engineering Department, University of Florida, Room 237, CHE PO Box 116005, Gainesville, FL 32611-6005, USA.


Approximately 90% of all ophthalmic drug formulations are now applied as eye-drops. While eye-drops are convenient and well accepted by patients, about 95% of the drug contained in the drops is lost due to absorption through the conjunctiva or through the tear drainage. A major fraction of the drug eventually enters the blood stream and may cause side effects. The drug loss and the side effects can be minimized by using disposable soft contact lenses for ophthalmic drug delivery. The essential idea is to encapsulate the ophthalmic drug formulations in nanoparticles, and disperse these drug-laden particles in the lens material. Upon insertion into the eye, the lens will slowly release the drug into the pre lens (the film between the air and the lens) and the post-lens (the film between the cornea and the lens) tear films, and thus provide drug delivery for extended periods of time. This paper focuses on dispersing stabilized microemulsion drops in poly-2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate (p-HEMA) hydrogels. The results of this study show that the p-HEMA gels loaded with a microemulsion that is stabilized with a silica shell are transparent and that these gels release drugs for a period of over 8 days. Contact lenses made of microemulsion-laden gels are expected to deliver drugs at therapeutic levels for a few days. The delivery rates can be tailored by controlling the particle and the drug loading. It may be possible to use this system for both therapeutic drug delivery to eyes and the provision of lubricants to alleviate eye problems prevalent in extended lens wear.

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