Therapeutic advancements in the treatment of various ocular diseases is often linked to the development of efficient drug delivery systems (DDSs), which would allow a sustained release while maintaining therapeutic drug levels in the target tissues. In this way, ocular tissue/cell response can be properly modulated and designed in order to produce a therapeutic effect. An ideal ocular DDS should encapsulate and release the appropriate drug concentration to the target tissue (therapeutic but non-toxic level) while preserving drug functionality. Furthermore, a constant release is usually preferred, keeping the initial burst to a minimum. Different materials are used, modified, and combined in order to achieve a sustained drug release in both the anterior and posterior segments of the eye. After giving a picture of the different strategies adopted for ocular drug release, this review article provides an overview of the biomaterials that are used as drug carriers in the eye, including micro- and nanospheres, liposomes, hydrogels, and multi-material implants; the advantages and limitations of these DDSs are discussed in reference to the major ocular applications.
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