Diabetes is known to take its toll on the vision of the patient. Though most of the time the damage to vision may not be quick, with the passage of time, a diabetic is likely to feel the deterioration of vision.
Conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy are sometimes diagnosed in diabetics. Among these, diabetic retinopathy ( i.e. the unwanted growth of capillaries in the retina) is possibly considered a leading cause of vision loss among diabetics.
Hope for those diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy now comes from a team of scientists and engineers at the University of British Columbia. They have developed a new drug delivery device, which if planted deep in the eye socket can release the required drug for treatment on-demand by the body. (1)
The study and design was led by PhD mechanical engineering graduate Fatemeh Nazly Pirmoradi and Mechanical Engineering Assoc. Prof. Mu Chiao. This design may be superior to the current line of treatment which involves either the use of anti-cancer drugs or laser therapy, both with its baggage of side effects.
Laser therapy to treat diabetic retinopathy is known to cause loss of night- as well as peripheral vision. Anti-cancer drugs wash out of the system quickly and so larger or frequent administration is required thus posing potential danger of tissue toxicity.
As per Chiao, “We wanted to come up with a safe and effective way to help diabetic patients safeguard their sight”. (2)
The new drug delivering device is able to release the drug through an external magnetic field. When the pin-head sized reservoir of the device to be implanted was sealed with a siliocone membrane, a magnetic field causes the membrane to deform and discharge a specific amount of the drug docetaxel used in treating diabetic retinopathy. Through repeated tests the device stood integrity tests and did not report leakage.