Inner layer-embedded contact lenses for pH-triggered controlled ocular drug delivery

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Graphical abstractContact lenses (CLs) are ideally suited for controlled ocular drug delivery, but are limited by short release duration, poor storage stability and low drug loading. In this study, we present a novel inner layer-embedded contact lens capable of pH-triggered extended ocular drug delivery with good storage stability. Blend film of ethyl cellulose and Eudragit S100 was used as the inner layer, while pHEMA hydrogel was used as outer layer to fabricate inner layer-embedded contact lens. Using diclofenac sodium(DS) as a drug model, influence of polymer ratio in the blend film, EC viscosity, drug/polymer ratio, inner layer thickness and outlayer thickness of pHEMA hydrogel on drug release behavior was studied and optimized for daily use. The pH-triggered drug eluting pattern enables the inner layer-embedded contact lens being stored in phosphate buffer solution pH 6.8 with ignorable drug loss and negligible changes in drug release pattern. In vivo pharmacokinetic study in rabbits showed sustained drug release for over 24 h in tear fluid, indicating significant improvement in drug corneal residence time. A level A IVIVC was established between in vitro drug release and in vivo drug concentration in tear fluid. In conclusion, this inner layer embedded contact lens design could be used as a platform for extended ocular drug delivery with translational potential for both anterior and posterior ocular diseases therapy.

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