Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide. Damage the optic nerve in patients with glaucoma. This nerve damage, which inhibits the transmission of visual information to the brain, is often caused by abnormal eye pressure. Wouldn’t it be useful if there was a way to lower eye pressure to avoid glaucoma? A team of researchers has developed a compact wireless device — a flexible (smart) contact lens — that appears to detect elevated intraocular pressure. It then releases medication on demand to relieve this pressure.

While the wireless device has only been tested in pig and rabbit eyes, this research is a breakthrough in a sense. Some researchers have previously focused on either sensing pressure changes in the eye or delivering the drug, but not both. The team of Chinese researchers did exactly that in this study – it can detect changes in and deliver therapeutic drugs as needed.

Glaucoma is a group of optic nerve-related eye diseases that cause irreversible vision loss and blindness in millions of people worldwide. Early detection and prompt intervention remain critical treating or slowing the condition. But it’s hard to catch.

Therefore, contact lenses that rest comfortably on the eye are very attractive for providing treatment for this condition. But fitting circuits and sensors into small, curved and ultra-thin contact lenses is a serious engineering challenge. “Installing a complex multi-module theranostic system on contact lenses is an extremely challenging task,” electrical engineer Cheng Yang and colleagues at Sun Yat-Sen University wrote in their paper.

The researchers added that they designed the bilayer lenses with brimonidine, an anti-glaucoma drug. The wireless system triggers drug release when the lenses detect intraocular pressure reaching risky levels. The drug flows from the base of the lens through the cornea into the eye.

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More testing is needed before the lens can be moved for human clinical testing.


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