June 12, 2024

Organic Compound Found in Trees Holds Promise for Preventing Contact Lens Eye Infections

A groundbreaking study has discovered that a naturally-occurring substance may serve as an effective disinfectant for contact lenses, offering potential relief for the millions of individuals who wear them worldwide.

One of the most serious complications that contact lens wearers face is microbial keratitis, which is an infection of the cornea caused by bacteria. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the most common bacteria that leads to this infection.

Previous research has revealed that existing disinfecting solutions do not effectively prevent the formation of biofilm, which consists of clusters of bacteria that attach to the surface of the lenses.

Researchers have found that hydroquinine, an organic compound present in the bark of certain trees, has the ability to kill bacteria, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa, as well as other clinically significant germs like Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Klebsiella pneumoniae.

The team behind this discovery, hailing from the University of Portsmouth in England and Naresuan and Pibulsongkram Rajabhat universities in Thailand, has explored the potential use of multipurpose solutions containing hydroquinine as a disinfectant for contact lenses.

The antibacterial, anti-adhesion, and anti-biofilm properties of hydroquinine-formulated multipurpose solutions (MPSs) were examined and compared to two commercial MPSs, Opti-free Replenish and Q-eye. The natural compound successfully eliminated 99.9 percent of bacteria during disinfection.

The findings, published in the journal Antibiotics, potentially pave the way for the development of novel disinfectants that can combat the P. aeruginosa bacteria.

Dr. Robert Baldock from the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Portsmouth explained that commercially available disinfecting solutions, which consist of numerous chemicals, can sometimes lead to painful side effects. He emphasized the potential of natural agents derived from organic compounds in reducing the risk of contact lens contamination.

This research has yielded exciting progress, moving from initial discovery to the exploration of potential applications.

Corneal infections are reported in up to 3.5 million cases annually, and in severe situations, they can result in permanent eye damage and vision loss. The risk of microbial keratitis doubles when individuals wear contact lenses overnight or for longer periods than the recommended daily usage.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified corneal blindness caused by microbial keratitis as a significant cause of visual impairment. Additionally, multidrug-resistant P. aeruginosa has been classified by the WHO as one of the most alarming pathogens.

Antimicrobial resistance, which occurs when germs no longer respond to medicines, poses a challenge in treating infections. It is responsible for over 2.8 million infections and 35,000 deaths annually.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it