Device helps patients with this challenging task.
Patients now have help in the age-old struggle with administering eyedrops.
GentleDrop, the new, nose-pivoted drop delivery device, was designed by Robert M. Kinast, MD, an ophthalmologist whose patients asked him for help with this seemingly simple but sometimes daunting task.
THE INVENTION PROCESS
Dr. Kinast, a glaucoma specialist, associate fellowship director and residency site director at the Devers Eye Institute in Portland Ore., says it was startling to observe patients trying to use their drops — they missed the eye, touched the eye with the bottle’s tip or wasted drops. Realizing that patients needed to stabilize the bottle somehow, he tried to teach them to use their nose as a rest, but it wasn’t working.
So, Dr. Kinast started thinking about a solution. Using clay, he created a prototype for GentleDrop. He then worked with a local prototype company for the clinical trial model and hired an industrial engineer to make GentleDrop adaptable to more bottle sizes and easier to squeeze.
When designing the aid, Dr. Kinast, who is now CEO of GentleDrop, wanted it to provide the perfect drop placement. To achieve this, the bottle tip approaches at an angle (not perpendicular to the cornea); the bottle tip is steady and hovers above the eye — but isn’t too far away; and the device itself avoids the central visual axis and doesn’t touch the skin around the eye.
“For patients who struggle with eyedrops, these attributes were important to increase safety, comfort and confidence,” Dr. Kinast says.
Existing eyedrop aids and guides often touch the eyelids, completely cover the eye or point the bottle tip directly at the eye, which patients can find intimidating or unsettling, Dr. Kinast says.
HOW IT WORKS
To operate GentleDrop, users slide the eyedrop bottle into the sleeve so that it sits snugly into GentleDrop, remove the drop bottle lid and place GentleDrop on the nose’s bridge. Then, it’s as simple as tipping the head back, looking up and squeezing.
“The entire design is ergonomic, from the softness of the silicone to the nose’s bridge angle,” says Dr. Hayden, who now serves as president of GentleDrop. “When held at the lowest border of the device, GentleDrop actually makes squeezing the bottle easier.”
GentleDrop can expand to fit any standard cylindrical eyedrop bottle that is 5, 10 or 15 mL. It can fit narrow 22-mm diameter bottles like Zaditor (Ketotifen fumarate, Allergan) or larger 25-mm diameter bottles such as Systane (Alcon). It is not designed to fit very small 2.5-mm bottles or unusual shapes, such as used for Rohto’s drops (The Mentholatum Co, Inc.), Dr. Hayden says.
Either the physician or a tech can demonstrate the GentleDrop to patients, and the company provides an instructional pamphlet with purchase, as well as a video on its website (www.dropbetter.com ).
GentleDrop is made of durable, non-toxic, biocompatible silicone and can be reused for any number of eyedrop bottles. The company says it should be functional for at least one year and is reusable and washable.
Currently, the device can be purchased on the company’s website. “We are also partnering with optometrists and ophthalmologists to sell in the clinic,” Dr. Kinast says.
James Rosenbaum, MD, a professor and uveitis specialist at Oregon Health & Science University and Devers Eye Institute, both based in Portland, Ore., used GentleDrop to administer his drops after having cataract surgery and plans to recommend it to his patients. “We had the prototype at Devers during the clinical trial, and it seemed like an obvious solution to a real problem,” he says. “The dispenser was great! I didn’t have any trouble using my drops, and the material felt very comfortable. It is virtually foolproof and solved a big personal problem for me.”
In a 2021 study, 50 glaucoma patients who had difficulty administering drops compared a GentleDrop prototype with traditional eyedrop delivery. Sanchez et al found that 47 patients (94%) preferred GentleDrop over traditional eyedrop delivery, and 49 patients (98%) said GentleDrop was comfortable to use and would recommend the device to a family member or friend. Ease of use scores were higher for GentleDrop (8.9/10) than traditional delivery (6.7/10).
The bottle tip contacted fewer eyes with GentleDrop (10 eyes) than traditional delivery (33 eyes), and the number of drops dispensed was lower with the GentleDrop (1.7 ±1.2) than baseline traditional (2.2 ±1.6). GentleDrop increased success rates, defined as a drop reaching the eye without bottle tip contact, to 86% compared with traditional delivery (66%).
“The GentleDrop prototype was shown to improve success, reduce eye trauma and decrease drops wasted,” Dr. Kinast says. “I was especially impressed by the high satisfaction rates.”
Regarding the study, Dr. Rosenbaum was particularly struck by how many patients preferred GentleDrop and how it decreased eye trauma and medication waste. “I will mention the device to all of my patients when getting drops for the first time and will suggest it to veteran drop users who struggle with administering drops,” he says. OM