The technology is called Nano-Drops and it works by the drops modifying the corneal refractive index, which leads to an optical correction. The extent of the correction, in terms of magnification, is adjusted by a laser source, which works on the corneal epithelium, which acts as a barrier to protect the cornea, resisting the free flow of fluids from the tears, and prevents bacteria from entering the epithelium and corneal stroma.
Through careful development the optical correction can be adjusted for the sight conditions of myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) or presbyopia (loss of accommodation ability). The application of the laser onto the cornea last for only a few milliseconds. This step triggers the nanoparticles in the drop to activate the required optical pattern for the particular eye condition being treated. The adjustment is a local change to the refractive index. This serves to modify the path that light takes when passing through the cornea.
Although a laser is momentarily involved, the process is very different to conventional laser treatment for visual correction. This technique user excimer lasers (a form of ultraviolet laser) to reshape the curvature of the cornea. Conventional laser treatment is not suitable for all; those who have certain eye diseases involving the cornea or retina are not good candidates for this type of refractive surgery.
The new method, Controlled Environments reports, uses the laser to ‘stamp’ the optical pattern onto the corneal epithelium. This is achieved through numerous adjacent pulses, which are produced rapidly. The process creates very tiny corneal spots which enables the synthetic nanoparticles to enter and to modify the optical power of the eye.
The new development comes from Bar-Ilan University’s Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (BINA). The team behind the discovery was led by Dr. David Smadja (Ophthalmologist from Shaare Zedek Medical Center). A patent has been applied for a by a spin-off company called Birad – Research & Development Company Ltd.
To date the technology has been tested on animals, with the conditions of myopia and presbyopia corrected on pigs eyes. The researchers hope that, in the future, people will be able to use the technology to have their eyes treated from their own home. This would be through using the drops and a smartphone app, with the app assessing the correction required (the optical stamp) and also operating the laser needed for the light-activated step.