Development of an <em>In Vitro</em> Ocular Platform to Test Contact Lenses
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Currently, in vitro evaluations of contact lenses (CLs) for drug delivery are typically performed in large volume vials, which fail to mimic physiological tear volumes. The traditional model also lacks the natural tear flow component and the blinking reflex, both of which are defining factors of the ocular environment. The development of a novel model is described in this study, which consists of a unique 2-piece design, eyeball and eyelid piece, capable of mimicking physiological tear volume. The models are created from 3-D printed molds (Polytetrafluoroethylene or Teflon molds), which can be used to generate eye models from various polymers, such as polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and agar. Further modifications to the eye pieces, such as the integration of an explanted human or animal cornea or human corneal construct, will permit for more complex in vitro ocular studies. A commercial microfluidic syringe pump is integrated with the platform to emulate physiological tear secretion. Air exposure and mechanical wear are achieved using two mechanical actuators, of which one moves the eyelid piece laterally, and the other moves the eyeballeyepiece circularly. The model has been used to evaluate CLs for drug delivery and deposition of tear components on CLs.
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