Seaweed gel as a treatment for retinal detachment

South Korean researchers have used components derived from algae to create a biocompatible artificial vitreous body

A large rock with an underside covered in green seaweed rests exposed on a beach
Pixabay/Andrew Martin

New research published in Biomaterials has explored the use of a gel derived from seaweed as a therapy for retinal detachment. 

The researchers highlighted that those who experience retinal detachments often require a tamponade injection to stabilise the retina.

“Current clinical tamponades such as silicone oil and expandable gases have drawbacks, including patient discomfort and the need for secondary surgery,” the authors shared.

The researchers from Pohang University of Science and Technology and Dong-a University Hospital experimented with using a natural carbohydrate derived from algae as an alternative to traditional vitreous tamponades.

They found that the substitute was able to inhibit retinal detachment reoccurrence and preserve vision when used in a rabbit model of retinal detachment.

Professor Hyung Joon Cha, of Pohang University of Science and Technology, shared that the prevalence of retinal detachment – which has correlations with severe myopia – is increasing, particularly among young people.

He added that the prevalence of retinal detachments in Korea rose by 50% in 2022 when compared to 2017.

Professor Woo Jin Jeong, of Dong-a University Hospital, highlighted that the global market for intraocular fillers is expanding at a rate of 3% per year.

“We anticipate that the hydrogel we’ve created will prove beneficial in upcoming vitreoretinal surgeries,” he said.