A nurse and case manager at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center’s eye center has invented a new device to make it easier for patients to put drops in their eyes.
Terri Ohlinger noticed that many patients were having trouble using eyedrops correctly. Many patients have trouble squeezing small eyedrop bottles or positioning the drops over their eyes.
So with the help of University of Cincinnati engineering students, Ohlinger designed a device called the “DropEase” to make the process easier.
“There were a lot of patients who weren’t doing their eye drops,” Ohlinger told WCPO, an ABC affiliate in Cincinnati. “Or I was re-ordering their eye drops really frequently because they were using too much. Many of our patients have manual dexterity issues to where they just couldn’t squeeze the bottle, and they just kind of gave up.”
Hand-held DropEase device. Photo courtesy of VA Technology Transfer program
Device has easy-squeeze handle
The DropEase provides a stable platform for self-administering eyedrops, complete with a handle that is easy to squeeze with weak or shaky hands. The device allows users to set a metered dosage to get the proper amount of medication every time. Standard eyedrop bottles fit into the device.
The team designed two versions: a hand-held device and one with an applicator that can be worn like eyeglasses. Ohlinger and her VA colleagues worked with local Veterans to test the prototypes, and received positive feedback.
The DropEase can help users with conditions such as tremors, Parkinson’s disease or arthritis overcome difficulties with eyedrop bottles. The autosqueeze handle makes it easier to apply enough force to a small bottle. The device also features an aiming channel to help direct the drops into the eye.
The version with an eyeglass frame makes positioning the drops even easier by removing the need for the user to hold the bottle up.
The invention could also be used to apply medication drops to the ear canals.
VA Tech Transfer helps move the invention along
Ohlinger has applied for a patent with the help of VA’s Technology Transfer Program. Tech Transfer is now marketing the invention to medical device manufacturers for licensing and production through its licensing intermediary, TechLink.
TechLink provides licensing assistance to companies at no cost, with royalties from any eventual commercial sales going to the inventor and VA.