Close up image of a caretaker helping older woman walk

A contact lens that can deliver glaucoma medication may signal a new era for treatment of the eye disease.

Researchers at Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology, Boston Children’s Hospital and Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed a lens that can deliver large amounts of latanoprost, which is a common glaucoma treatment drug.

The disease, which is the leading cause of blindness in the world, is normally treated with eye drops, but there is “notoriously poor patient adherence,” according to Joseph Ciolino, M.D., cornea and disease specialist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear.

The lenses have a drug-polymer film in the periphery, which can control drug release. The lenses can be made with no refractive power, or with the ability to also correct vision for those with nearsighted- or farsightedness.

Results of the researchers’ work will be in the January issue of Biomaterials.