Photoablation of Human Vitreous Opacities by Light-Induced Vapor Nanobubbles

Félix Sauvage, Juan C Fraire, Katrien Remaut, J Sebag, Karen Peynshaert, Michael Harrington, Frans J Van de Velde, Ranhua Xiong, Marie-José Tassignon, Toon Brans, Kevin Braeckmans, Stefaan C De Smedt
ACS Nano 2019 July 23, 13 (7): 8401-8416
Myopia, diabetes, and aging are the main causes of progressive vitreous collagen aggregation, resulting in vitreous opacities, which can significantly disturb vision. As vitreous opacities, which induce the visual phenomenon of "floaters", are accessible with nanomaterials and light, we propose a nanotechnology-based approach to locally ablate them with highly reduced light energy compared to the more traditional YAG laser therapy. Our strategy relies on the plasmon properties of gold nanoparticles that generate vapor nanobubbles upon pulsed-laser illumination whose mechanical force can ablate vitreous opacities. We designed gold nanoparticles coated with hyaluronic acid (HA), which have excellent diffusional mobility in human vitreous, an essential requirement to reach the vitreous opacities. In addition, we found that HA-coated gold nanoparticles can accumulate extensively on human vitreous opacities that were obtained by vitrectomy from patients with vision-degrading myodesopsia. When subsequently applying nanosecond laser pulses, the collagen aggregates were efficiently destroyed with ∼1000 times less light energy than typically used in YAG laser therapy. This low-energy "floater-specific destruction", which is due to the accumulation of the small gold nanoparticles on the opacities, is attractive, as it may be safer to the surrounding ocular tissues while at the same time being easier and faster to apply compared to YAG laser therapy, where the opacities need to be ablated piece by piece by a tightly focused laser beam. Gold nanoparticle-assisted photoablation may therefore provide a safer, faster, and more reliable destruction of vitreous opacities in the treatment of ophthalmologic diseases.


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