While it is treatable, glaucoma remains a serious eye disease that can damage the optic nerve and lead to blindness if left untreated. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease, and research indicates that it affects 10 percent of those over 75.
Researchers from China have developed a contact lens that responds to an increase in eye pressure by releasing anti-glaucoma medicine that keeps pressure under a certain level.
Improving vision and eye health
In their study, published in Nature Communications, the research team explain that their device uses a snowflake-shaped pressure sensor and power source fitted between an upper and lower lens around their rim. An added aesthetic to the lens is that it appears to give the wearer’s eyes the appearance of golden irises. Plus, the design allows for the essential components to operate without disturbing the wearer’s vision or irritating their eyes.
If eye pressure increases, the gap between the two lenses decreases, and the pressure sensor picks this up and sends a signal to the wireless system. This then triggers a release of the anti-glaucoma drug from a hydrogel in the device. Brimonidine is the drug used here that reduces the pressure in the eye.
The device has so far been tested successfully on pigs and rabbits but not yet on humans.
Professor Zubair Ahmed from the Institute of Inflammation and Aging at the University of Birmingham, who was not involved in the work, was excited by the research and felt it could be used to help a lot of people with glaucoma-related pressure in their eyes.
“Here, the researchers have developed a minimally invasive contact lens that can detect these changes in pressure within the eye to provide real-time monitoring, but the contact lens can also respond by allowing on-demand drug delivery directly to the eye,” he said.
Source Study: Nature Communications — Intelligent wireless theranostic contact lens for electrical sensing and regulation of intraocular pressure | Nature Communications