Boon for glaucoma patients

Associate Professor Tina Wong checking on her patient Mr Suwarsono Dargo who is suffering from glaucoma, a disease which could lead to blindness.
Associate Professor Tina Wong checking on her patient Mr Suwarsono Dargo who is suffering from glaucoma, a disease which could lead to blindness. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

Glaucoma sufferers who forget to take their eye drops could end up becoming blind.

But that problem may be close to being solved after scientists here developed a "nanomedicine" that delivers the drug for up to three months from a single painless injection. The chronic condition that causes pressure to build up in the eye and destroy the optic nerve usually requires the sufferer to use eye drops for life.

Co-lead scientist Associate Professor Tina Wong, from the Singapore Eye Research Institute (Seri), found that about 90 per cent of patients fail to continue their eye drops for more than two years.

The condition, if not controlled, causes blindness and accounts for 40 per cent of blindness in Singapore. It is estimated that at least 10 per cent of such blindness is directly caused by poor patient adherence to prescribed medication.

Scientists from Seri and the Nanyang Technological University worked to develop a slow-release technology, made up of millions of nano-sized capsules. They are thousands of times smaller than a speck of dust and release their contents slowly over time.

The treatment is undergoing clinical trials.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 10, 2016, with the headline 'Boon for glaucoma patients'. Print Edition | Subscribe