Contact Lens to Help Treat Glaucoma

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Contact lens
Courtesy of osseous (Flickr CC0)

A contact lens developed by a team of Chinese researchers can detect changes in eye pressure and release brimonidine, an therapeutic drug, on-demand to help treat glaucoma. The contact lens detects and reduces rising eye pressure, one of the usual causes of glaucoma.

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide. It is a group of eye diseases where damage to the optic nerve will cause irreversible blindness. The cure for glaucoma usually involves eye drops, surgery, or therapy to decrease eye pressure and hinders its deterioration.

Recent efforts to devise contact lenses as wearable gadgets to treat eye conditions have either concentrated on monitoring pressure changes in the eye or giving a drug, but not both. This contact lens is for acute angle-closure glaucoma treatment, a less common form of glaucoma that can arise with a gradual or sudden fluid pressure build-up inside the eye.

Researchers disclosed that brimonidine, an anti-glaucoma drug, covers the double-layered lens and holds an ultra-thin air film in the middle. The air feels the shifts in intraocular pressure when the pressure from the eye compresses the air pocket.

Contact lens
Glaucoma Courtesy of Community Eye Health (Flickr CC0)

When the eye pressure reaches the high-risk levels, the wireless system triggers the brimonidine release, which flows from the bottom of the lens across the cornea into the eye.

The double-layer contact lens design fostered a tight frame to adapt multiple electronic moduli set inside the contact lens rim.

Scientists Continue Experiment

While this may sound exciting for people with glaucoma, scientists continue to experiment with other gadgets to deter and provide timely treatment for glaucoma.

But glaucoma is generally challenging to catch because peripheral eyesight is usually the first to go, and gadgets used to diagnose the condition only have a snapshot of intraocular pressure measurements that varies with sleep-wake activity cycles.

This contact lens is appealing because it is snug against the eye and makes for an effective surveillance system and treatment therapies for eye conditions.

But, merging the sensors and electrical circuits into a small ultra-thin device has its challenges. However, scientists are making progress in fabricating its prototype.

The testing was done in rabbit and pig eyes, but it looks very promising.

The researchers said the fabrication is compatible with large-scale methods and cost-effective manufacturing

Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Sheena Robertson


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Featured and Top Image Courtesy of osseous’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
inset Image Courtesy of Community Eye Health’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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