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Cerium oxide nanoparticles, also commonly used in window cleaner, may help in more effectively delivering an active ingredient into the eye.

According to details published in the New Scientist, the substance did not irritate the eye when it was tested on both rats and rabbits.

Experts said proper trials were needed before any real claims could be made.

But they did stress that a more effective way of delivering medicine would be welcomed.

“That is a real problem,” said Professor Robert Weale, an eye specialist at King’s College. “But clinical trials would be needed to establish the side effects and make sure the cure isn’t worse than the complaint.”

Getting in

The researchers noted that at present only a small amount of active chemicals manage to penetrate the cornea, but the cerium oxide particles were exactly the right size and shape to get through.

Sudipta Seal and Sanku Mallik, at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, successfully combined these particles with the compound which blocks the hCAII enzyme, believed to play a central role in glaucoma.

The enzyme is involved in producing fluid inside the eye, which builds up and damages the optic nerve is left untreated.

Millions of people are affected by the eye disease worldwide.

By the age of 70, about one person in every 10 has some form of glaucoma.