Gel to Fix Eye Injuries

Temperature-sensitive Hydrogel Developed to Fix Eye Injuries

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Highlights:
  • A temperature-sensitive glue has been developed to temporarily seal penetrating eye injuries
  • The gel appeared to be safe, as well as, effective when tested on rabbits
  • Clinical studies on the gel, if successful, will provide a first-aid option for soldiers as well as to people in areas inaccessible to specialized eye care
Scientists have developed and tested a gel in rabbits that can temporarily seal eye injuries till adequate facilities for surgery are available. Their research was published in the Science Translational Medicine.
Temperature-sensitive Hydrogel Developed to Fix Eye Injuries

The newly developed gel has some unique properties that make it ideal to be used for eye injuries:
  • The hydrogel consists of physically cross-linked N-isopropylacrylamide copolymerized with butyl acrylate
  • The gel is temperature sensitive. It becomes a liquid when it is cooled and a semi-solid at a higher temperature like that on the eye. Thus, it changes from a liquid to a super-strong semi-solid when applied to the eye.
  • The semi-solid seal can be removed simply by irrigating it with cool water when access to specialized eye care is available.
The scientists also developed a special syringe to deliver the gel. The syringe has a cooling chamber containing crystals of calcium ammonium nitrate. When water is added to the crystals, it cools the gel and converts it into a liquid so that it is ready for use in 30 seconds, and remains so for around 10 minutes.

The scientists tested the gel on the eyes of rabbits with open globe or full thickness injuries. They found that:
  • The gel was easy to use
  • The pressure within the eye improved, thereby reducing the chances of retinal detachment. The retina is the light-sensitive inner layer of the eye
  • There was a statistically significant improvement in would sealing
  • The gel appeared to be safe with no signs of nerve damage or degradation of the retina
  • The eyes did not show any infection or inflammation for up to 4 weeks following the application
The gel, once approved, will be particularly useful to soldiers who often get eye injuries in the war zones especially from shrapnel. These injuries require specialized care, however they usually do not get immediate care. This unique gel could help in reducing disability post war. Further, it could be useful in the rural or remote areas that lack adequate ophthalmologic facilities, so that the eye is protected till the patient reaches a specialty care hospital.

Currently, the gel has yet to undergo clinical trials before it can be used for the purpose.

About Eye Injuries

Eye injuries are a common problem. Injuries could be due to acids or other chemicals, solar damage caused by excessive staring at the sun, or a physical trauma due to a blow or the penetration of a sharp object. Fireworks lit without proper precautions are also a common cause of eye damage. Lacerations of the cornea can be particularly serious since they can interfere with vision. Full thickness injuries to the eye could result in a drop of eye pressure and detachment of the retina, which could result in blindness.

Reference:
  1. Bayat N et al. A reversible thermoresponsive sealant for temporary closure of ocular trauma. Science Translational Medicine 2017: Vol. 9, Issue 419, eaan3879 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aan3879
Source: Medindia

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