Controlling gene expression via small interfering RNA (siRNA) has opened the doors to a plethora of therapeutic possibilities, with many currently in the pipelines of drug development for various ocular diseases. Despite the potential of siRNA technologies, barriers to intracellular delivery significantly limit their clinical efficacy. However, recent progress in the field of drug delivery strongly suggests that targeted manipulation of gene expression via siRNA delivered through nanocarriers can have an enormous impact on improving therapeutic outcomes for ophthalmic applications. Particularly, synthetic nanocarriers have demonstrated their suitability as a customizable multifunctional platform for the targeted intracellular delivery of siRNA and other hydrophilic and hydrophobic drugs in ocular applications. We predict that synthetic nanocarriers will simultaneously increase drug bioavailability, while reducing side effects and the need for repeated intraocular injections. This review will discuss the recent advances in ocular siRNA delivery via non-viral nanocarriers and the potential and limitations of various strategies for the development of a 'universal' siRNA delivery system for clinical applications.
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