I. INTRODUCTION Since the introduction of poly (methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) in the late 1940s, new materials have continued to evolve with ophthalmic applications. Biomaterials are used as tear substitutes, contact lenses, eye shields, drug delivery devices, corneal masks, lenticules for excimer laser refractive surgery, surgical media, vitreous substitutes, intraocular retinal tamponades, and scleral encircling elements and sponges used in retinal detachment surgery (see Table 1). Polysaccha- rides have potential applications in each of these areas mentioned because of their unique com- bination of chemical and physical properties. Since the design and development of contact and intraocular lenses have been discussed extensively elsewhere [1,2], they will not be reviewed in this chapter. We will examine the use of polysaccharides in applications other than lenses since the potential contribution of new materials is highest in these newer areas of use.
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