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Ther Deliv. 2010 Sep;1(3):435-56. doi: 10.4155/TDE.10.40.

Recent advances in ophthalmic drug delivery.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO, USA.


Topical ocular drug bioavailability is notoriously poor, in the order of 5% or less. This is a consequence of effective multiple barriers to drug entry, comprising nasolacrimal drainage, epithelial drug transport barriers and clearance from the vasculature in the conjunctiva. While sustained drug delivery to the back of the eye is now feasible with intravitreal implants such as Vitrasert (-6 months), Retisert (-3 years) and Iluvien (-3 years), currently there are no marketed delivery systems for long-term drug delivery to the anterior segment of the eye. The purpose of this article is to summarize the resurgence in interest to prolong and improve drug entry from topical administration. These approaches include mucoadhesives, viscous polymer vehicles, transporter-targeted prodrug design, receptor-targeted functionalized nanoparticles, iontophoresis, punctal plug and contact lens delivery systems. A few of these delivery systems might be useful in treating diseases affecting the back of the eye. Their effectiveness will be compared against intravitreal implants (upper bound of effectiveness) and trans-scleral systems (lower bound of effectiveness). Refining the animal model by incorporating the latest advances in microdialysis and imaging technology is key to expanding the knowledge central to the design, testing and evaluation of the next generation of innovative ocular drug delivery systems.

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