Nanomedicines for back of the eye drug delivery, gene delivery, and imaging

Prog Retin Eye Res. 2013 Sep:36:172-98. doi: 10.1016/j.preteyeres.2013.04.001. Epub 2013 Apr 17.


Treatment and management of diseases of the posterior segment of the eye such as diabetic retinopathy, retinoblastoma, retinitis pigmentosa, and choroidal neovascularization is a challenging task due to the anatomy and physiology of ocular barriers. For instance, traditional routes of drug delivery for therapeutic treatment are hindered by poor intraocular penetration and/or rapid ocular elimination. One possible approach to improve ocular therapy is to employ nanotechnology. Nanomedicines, products of nanotechnology, having at least one dimension in the nanoscale include nanoparticles, micelles, nanotubes, and dendrimers, with and without targeting ligands. Nanomedicines are making a significant impact in the fields of ocular drug delivery, gene delivery, and imaging, the focus of this review. Key applications of nanotechnology discussed in this review include a) bioadhesive nanomedicines; b) functionalized nanomedicines that enhance target recognition and/or cell entry; c) nanomedicines capable of controlled release of the payload; d) nanomedicines capable of enhancing gene transfection and duration of transfection; f) nanomedicines responsive to stimuli including light, heat, ultrasound, electrical signals, pH, and oxidative stress; g) diversely sized and colored nanoparticles for imaging, and h) nanowires for retinal prostheses. Additionally, nanofabricated delivery systems including implants, films, microparticles, and nanoparticles are described. Although the above nanomedicines may be administered by various routes including topical, intravitreal, intravenous, transscleral, suprachoroidal, and subretinal routes, each nanomedicine should be tailored for the disease, drug, and site of administration. In addition to the nature of materials used in nanomedicine design, depending on the site of nanomedicine administration, clearance and toxicity are expected to differ.

Keywords: Controlled release; Drug delivery; Gene delivery; Imaging; Nanotechnology; Stimuli responsive delivery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Eye Diseases / diagnosis
  • Eye Diseases / therapy*
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Humans
  • Micro-Electrical-Mechanical Systems
  • Nanomedicine / methods*
  • Nanoparticles / therapeutic use*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / administration & dosage*
  • Posterior Eye Segment*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations