I’m fascinated by mankind’s obsession with improvement. When I was kid, everything was labeled “new and improved.” It was an important moment in history because, for a millisecond, we stopped making new things and focused instead on making the things we already had even better. It was a noble ambition, to be sure. After all, few of us need more stuff—we just need stuff that works better.

But, over time, the new-and-improved labels died in popularity. The phrase itself grew old and no one paid much attention to it anymore. In the current marketplace, it is required that corporations constantly upgrade their products. It goes without saying; they need to do so in order to survive.

Interestingly, however, right around the same time that “new and improved” disappeared, the personal computer started making its way into the typical middle-class American home, quickly becoming a basic household appliance. This, I believe, marked the beginning of a true paradigm shift in the development of all things man-made.

It may seem obvious that computers would change the world, but I think it’s less a function of their power or speed than it is the pathways they created. When it came to computing, the focus of innovation was not on creating new things, but rather, on how to create better pathways between things.

The Internet is the most obvious example of this—and look at how dramatically that pipeline has changed the way we live! Computers have forever altered information delivery. And, soon, other industries followed suit, looking for better ways to get their product to the consumer. Medicine is no exception. In fact, health care has taken the concept of delivery to a whole new level.

In medicine, the spotlight is no longer aimed exclusively at creating better pharmaceuticals; rather, it is focused on how best to deliver them to specific tissue within the body. As William Townsend, O.D. points out in “A Fresh Update on Drug Delivery Systems," new drug delivery systems can target specific sites in your body, as well as control the rate of drug release.

There are several barriers to current drug delivery vehicles. To circumvent these, many new methods are aimed at bypassing the GI tract and, instead, penetrating through the skin. Dr. Townsend provides a detailed description of the latest in hypodermic injection, transdermal patches, microneedles and high-pressure injection.

A primary challenge in drug delivery is sustaining drug concentration, specifically with respect to ocular tissue absorption. Dr. Townsend explains the numerous bioadhesive polymers that are being investigated, as well as chitosan nanoparticles and liposomes. He also offers an in-depth discussion of intraocular implants for anti-VEGF delivery as well as gene therapy.

Since the dawn of time, scientists and innovators have been preoccupied with fashioning new tools. But, only recently have they concentrated their efforts on more effective modes of transport. Looking ahead, the combined result of both is sure to result in better outcomes at home, on the road and, of course, in health care settings worldwide.