The bioavailability of ophthalmic therapeutics is reduced because of the presence of physiological barriers whose primary function is to hinder the entry of exogenous agents, therefore also decreasing the bioavailability of locally administered drugs. Consequently, repeated ocular administrations are required. Hence, the development of drug delivery systems that ensure suitable drug concentration for prolonged times in different ocular tissues is certainly of great importance. This objective can be partially achieved using thermosensitive drug delivery systems that, owing to their ability of changing their state in response to temperature variations, from room to body temperature, may increase drug bioavailability. In the case of topical instillation, in situ forming gels increase pre-corneal drug residence time as a consequence of their enhanced adhesion to the corneal surface. Otherwise, in the case of intraocular and periocular, i.e., subconjunctival, retrobulbar, peribulbar administration, among others, they have the undoubted advantage of being easily injectable and, owing to their sudden thickening at body temperature, have the ability to form an in situ drug reservoir. As a result, the frequency of administration can be reduced, also favoring the patient’s adhesion to therapy. In the main section of this review, we discuss some of the most common treatment options for ocular diseases, with a special focus on posterior segment treatments, and summarize the most recent improvement deriving from thermosensitive drug delivery strategies. Aside from this, an additional section describes the most widespread in vitro models employed to evaluate the functionality of novel ophthalmic drug delivery systems.
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