Treatment for glaucoma patients could get more convenient with new injection method

An injected pellet which could replace the need for glaucoma patients to apply eye drops daily.
An injected pellet which could replace the need for glaucoma patients to apply eye drops daily. ST PHOTO: FELICIA CHOO

SINGAPORE - A new treatment for patients with glaucoma, which could make administering medicine for the condition more convenient, is in the works.

Researchers from the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) and the Singapore Eye Research Institute (Seri) are involved in a two-year international study for an injected pellet which could replace the need for glaucoma patients to apply eye drops daily - currently the most widely used treatment for the condition.

Glaucoma causes pressure to build up in the eye and destroy the optic nerve, and patients are usually required to apply eye drops for life.

With the new technology, a 1mm pellet is injected via a pen-like device into the patient's eyeball, releasing medicine as it dissolves.

Patients will only need to get a new pellet injected after the existing one has completely dissolved, which takes a few months. They will have to go for checks to ensure that the existing pellet has completely dissolved.

The proportion of glaucoma sufferers in Singapore and globally who adhere to using eye-drops is estimated to be as low as 40 per cent to 50 per cent.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. In Singapore, around 3 per cent of people over the age of 50 have glaucoma, while 10 to 12 per cent of those over the age of 70 have the condition.