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Researchers from Shaare Zedek Medical Center and Bar Ilan University are working with investors to raise $1 million to fund research and development for eye drops they say can correct refractive-related vision problems, thereby potentially making eyeglasses obsolete.

The development of the eye drops, dubbed “nanodrops,” was first announced in March 2018 by Dr. David Smadja, a research associate at Bar-Ilan University’s Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (BINA) and the Head of the Ophthalmology Research Unit at Shaare Zedek. Smajda led a team of ophthalmologists working on the solution, including Professor Zeev Zalevsky of Bar Ilan’s Kofkin Faculty of Engineering and Professor Jean-Paul Moshe Lellouche of the Department of Chemistry at BINA.

Made up of a synthetic nanoparticle solution, the eye drops have shown great potential to solve cornea-related vision issues. In the team’s first round of animal trials in March, the nanodrops were applied to pigs’ corneas and successfully corrected two kinds of refractive errors: myopia (near-sightedness) and presbyopia (far-sightedness typically caused by aging).

“In these first bio-activity tests, we demonstrated that these drops are incredibly effective,” Lellouche tells NoCamels.

The inspiration for the eye drops came from Dr. Smadja who suffered from headaches for years from working at his computer for long periods of time. He knew he needed a small visual correction, but his choices were limited.

“My correction was so small that I was not eligible for any laser operation,” said Smadja tells NoCamels. “My options at the time were [either] wearing glasses or wearing contact lenses.”

Dr. Smadja recognized that the standard solutions for visual correction failed to cure dry eyes, a symptom common among screen users, and decided to create a better alternative: “I thought, why not make eye drops that could correct my vision with a refractive index?”

The team plans to further test the drops on live rabbits this year, before moving on to human trials in 2020.

During these trials, the researchers will test the drops on subjects with “any type of refractive error that enter into the scope of the nanodrops,” Dr. Smadja describes, for the aim is to correct different kinds of refractive errors. “In the end, we plan to have eye drops for myopia (nearsightedness) and for hyperopia (farsightedness),” he adds.

They will also address remaining issues regarding the functionality of the drops.

“First, even though the pigs’ corneas are very close to the human eye, we don’t have any feedback in terms of how long the effect will last,” Dr. Smadja explains. It is estimated that users of the drops will experience visual correction for at least two to three days, which the team hopes to verify using the subjects’ verbal feedback.

Dr. Smadja adds that the human trials also provide the opportunity to test the nanodrops against the alternatives: “We want to compare the drops against glasses, and we can’t quite do that with animals.”

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