Topical application of polymeric nanomicelles in ophthalmology: a review on research efforts for the noninvasive delivery of ocular therapeutics

Expert Opin Drug Deliv. 2019 Apr;16(4):397-413. doi: 10.1080/17425247.2019.1597848. Epub 2019 Apr 8.


Introduction: Polymeric micelles represent nowadays an interesting formulative approach for ocular drug delivery, as they act as solubility enhancers of poorly soluble drugs and promote drug transport across cornea and sclera. In particular, in the last 5 years polymeric nanomicelles have been increasingly investigated to overcome some of the important challenges of the topical treatment of ocular diseases.

Areas covered: The aim of this review was to gather up-to-date information on the different roles that polymeric micelles (commonly in the nanosize scale) can play in ocular delivery. Thus, after a general description of ocular barriers and micelles features, the attention is focused on those properties that are relevant for ophthalmic application. Finally, their efficacy in improving the ocular delivery of different classes of therapeutics (anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressant, antiglaucoma, antifungal, and antiviral drugs) are reported.

Expert opinion: Although still a few, in vivo experiments have clearly demonstrated the capability of polymeric nanomicelles to overcome a variety of hurdles associated to ocular therapy, notably increasing drug bioavailability. However, there are still some very important issues to be solved, such as tolerability and stability; additionally, the role of micelles in drug uptake by the ocular tissues and their potential for the treatment of posterior eye diseases still need to be clarified/verified.

Keywords: Nanomicelles; anti-glaucoma drugs; anti-inflammatory; antifungal drugs; antioxidants; antiviral drugs; cyclosporine; drugs; eye diseases; nanotechnology; ocular drug delivery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Ophthalmic
  • Animals
  • Biological Availability
  • Cornea / metabolism
  • Drug Compounding
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Eye Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Micelles
  • Polymers / chemistry*
  • Sclera / metabolism
  • Solubility


  • Micelles
  • Polymers