Scientists develop sight-saving treatment for eye infection

London: Scientists have developed a novel eye drop that can rapidly reduce sight-threatening scarring to the surface of the eye or the cornea.

The cornea is usually transparent, but scars, resulting from eye infection or trauma, make it opaque causing blurred vision or in extreme cases complete blindness.

The eye drop consists of a fluid gel with a natural wound-healing protein called Decorin.

According to the scientists, the fluid gel forms a protective barrier that protects the surface of the eye from further damage caused by blinking.

Pre-clinical research shows that within a matter of days the eye drop speeds healing, reduces scarring and improves corneal transparency compared to the current standard of care for Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an eye infection commonly associated with poor contact lens hygiene.

“The fluid gel is a novel material that can transition between a solid and liquid state. This means it contours itself to the surface of the eye, is retained there, and is only slowly removed by blinking,” said lead researcher Liam Grover, professor from the University of Birmingham.

“This innovative fluid gel in the eye drop is designed to retain the Decorin on the surface of the eye, and form a ‘therapeutic bandage’ that promotes scarless healing,” added Ann Logan, professor from the varsity.

The anti-scarring eye drop could also help save many people’s sight, particularly in the developing world where surgical interventions such as corneal transplants are not available, said the scientists in a paper published in the journal, ‘Regenerative Medicine’.

Disorganisation in the cornea leads to corneal opacity — disorder of the cornea and sight-loss. Such corneal opacities are a leading cause of blindness, according to the World Health Organization.