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Material benefits

German researchers are developing germicidal contact lenses that could help treat keratitis

Contact lens

An innovative contact lens treatment for corneal infections could help patients where traditional therapies fall short.

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research in Potsdam have developed plasma-treated hydrogel lenses as a potential treatment for keratitis.

The World Health Organization estimates that one in four losses of eyesight are linked to corneal opacity and a common cause of this opacity is microbial keratitis.

Dr Storsberg explained that certain types of keratitis do not respond to treatment with antibiotics.

The current therapy of combining antibiotics with disinfectants can have severe side effects, he highlighted.

“It made sense to develop contact lenses with germicidal properties and see whether they attack the amoebae and prevent them from multiplying,” he added.

The scientists manufactured contact lenses from silicone hydrogel. The lenses were then soaked in plasma-activated water.

Plasma is known to have germicidal properties and is already used in the treatment of skin diseases.

“Silicone hydrogel does not react with the plasma-activated water, but absorbs it very effectively without changing its properties,” Dr Storsberg explained.

He highlighted that the anti-bacterial potential of the contact lenses has been confirmed through trials using human donor corneas and results have been published in peer-reviewed literature.

Dr Storsberg added that further investigation is required before the contact lenses can be established as a new therapy for eye infections.

“What we see from the current results encourages us to carry on,” he shared with OT.

Image credit: Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research