Gold nanoparticle synthesis in contact lenses for drug-less ocular cystinosis treatment

Eur J Pharm Biopharm. 2021 Aug:165:271-278. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpb.2021.05.019. Epub 2021 May 24.


Purpose: To develop gold nanoparticles-loaded contact lens ("GoldinLens") to bind a significant mass of cystine on the surface of the gold nanoparticles (GNPs) for cystinosis treatment due to the reaction between cystine and gold.

Methods: The GoldinLens was manufactured by synthesizing GNPs inside the preformed contact lens matrix by first loading the lenses (Moist and TrueEye) with gold precursor followed by reduction (with sodium borohydride or trisodium citrate) to gold atoms, which nucleated to GNPs inside the polymeric matrix. The lenses were characterized by SEM, XRD, UV-Vis spectroscopy and mass of GNPs loaded in the lens was determined by direct measurement of mass. Manufactured lenses were soaked in cystine solution for cystine uptake in vitro.

Results: Results show that gold loading in the contact lens increases linearly with gold precursor concentration and number of repetitions of the manufacturing process. The stronger reducing agent sodium borohydride resulted in higher gold loading, with the loading being higher in the Moist lenses due to higher diffusivity of the reducing agent into the lens. However, GNPs were smaller in size and relatively monodispersed in TruEye GoldinLens, resulting in higher cystine uptake of 47 μg/lens over 24 h (vs. 33 μg/lens for Moist GoldinLens). However, the rate of this uptake was higher for Moist GoldiLens (8.25 vs. 2.35 μg/h), with the maximum uptake occurring in one hour (vs. five hours).

Conclusion: A method for manufacturing GoldinLens, wherein small gold nanoparticles are trapped in contact lenses, has been developed for drugless cystinosis treatment. The lenses withdraw cystine molecules from the surrounding milieu, with the TrueEye GoldinLens being superior for the extent of, while Moist GoldinLens is superior for rate of cystine removal. GoldinLenses of this study can be used for drugless cystine removal cystinosis treatment with one- or five-hour wear at a time.

Keywords: Cystinosis treatment; Gold nanoparticles; Nanoparticle synthesis; Soft contact lens.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Ophthalmic
  • Contact Lenses*
  • Cystine / administration & dosage*
  • Cystine / pharmacokinetics
  • Cystinosis / drug therapy*
  • Drug Delivery Systems / instrumentation*
  • Drug Liberation
  • Eye Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Gold / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry


  • Cystine
  • Gold