The 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate (pHEMA), which takes the form as

The first contact lens was made with poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA ),
in 1939. In the 1960s, poly 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate (pHEMA), which takes
the form as a hydrogel in water, was introduced.1 Hydrogels are
polymers that are highly hydrophilic, allowing them to absorbs large amounts of
water.2 The monomers of both of these polymers contains C=C bonds,
which is what allows them to polymerize, as the double bond will break.

Dr. Ghatora’s primary research is to
discover a method to prevent calcification on lens implanted into patients with
cataracts. A cataract is often a result of aging eye lens, and it develops a
cloudy film, which makes it difficult to see. The common treatment for this is
to remove the cloudy lens surgically, and replace it with an artificial lens
made out of the polymer PMMA. However, complications often arise after having
the lens for a period of time, one of which is calcification. Calcification is the
development of calcium deposits on the surface of the lens. It is exactly why
these calcium deposits form, however it is observed they are more likely to
occur in patients who are diabetic, thus it is likely that a patients personal
biochemical makeup has an effect as to whether or not calcification occurs.3
Dr. Ghatora hypothesized that if the surface of the PMMA was sterilized using
fluorination (the process of treating the surface with fluorine gas), then the
surface will be more bio-compatible, and not calcify, as fluorinating a surface
increases its barrier properties. Dr. Ghatora’s results were as follows: the
surface of the lens became more wettable. However, there was also a decrease in
molecular weight. Since this property has changed, it means that the lens has
changed either physically or chemically in some way. Therefore, this research
isn’t finished. Dr. Ghatora’s goal is to find a new lens that doesn’t change
during fluorination.

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Another project of Dr. Ghatora’s is
creating contact lens that release medication and ointment. Current treatments
for many optical conditions is eye drops, ointment, and ophthalmic suspension.
All of these are a liquid that are dropped into the eye, and are inferior for a
few reasons, the biggest being that they need to be administered multiple times
during a day, and impair vision for a few minutes after administration.
Drug-laden Contact lens would fix this issue, as they have good bio-compatibility,
and would administer the drug throughout the day. These contact lens would be
possible, because pHEMA is extremely hydrophilic; it can hold onto large
amounts of water.2 If the drug was made into an aqueous solution,
the pHEMA lens would be able to absorb it, and release it into the eye.