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Written by Xiaoyan Xu

Dry eye disease is a common ocular disorder which occurs due to insufficient tear production or excessive evaporation of tears. Current treatment includes the use of eye drops to the anterior segment of the eye, however, ocular drug bioavailability is usually poor (< 5%) due to various factors including high turnover rate, blinking and naso-lacrimal drainage.

Punctal plugs are non-invasive devices for mitigating dry eye syndromes which block the lacrimal duct to prevent tear drainage.

We manufactured a novel drug delivery system using digital light processing (DLP) 3D printing was employed to prepare dexamethasone-loaded punctal plugs in polyethylene glycol diacrylate (PEGDA) hydrogels with different drug loadings. Our results showed sustained release of dexamethasone for up to 7 days from punctal plugs made with 20% (w/w) PEG 400 and 80% (w/w) PEGDA, while punctal plugs made with 100% (w/w) PEGDA demonstrated prolonged releases for more than 21 days. The 3D printed punctal plugs from this work represents great potential to be applied for other therapeutic compounds in ocular drug delivery.

Read our open-access research article here.