New smart contact lenses could diagnose and treat diabetes

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In a new study, researchers developed wirelessly driven ‘smart contact lens’ technology that can detect diabetes and further treat diabetic retinopathy just by wearing them.

The research was conducted by a team at Pohang University of Science & Technology (POSTECH).

Diabetes is called an incurable disease because once it develops, it does not disappear regardless of treatment in modern medicine.

Having diabetes means a life-long obligation of insulin shots and monitoring of blood glucose levels.

In the study, the team developed a wireless powered smart contact lens that can diagnose and treat diabetes by controlling drug delivery with electrical signals.

The smart contact lenses are made of biocompatible polymers and integrate biosensors and drug delivery and data communication systems.

The research team verified that the glucose level in tears of diabetic rabbits analyzed by smart contact lenses matched their blood glucose level using a conventional glucose sensor that utilizes drawn blood.

The team additionally confirmed that the drugs encased in smart contact lenses could treat diabetic retinopathy.

Recently, by applying the platform technology of these smart contact lenses, research has been conducted to expand the scope of electroceuticals that use electrical stimulations to treat brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and mental illnesses including depression.

The research team expects this development of self-controlled therapeutic smart contact lenses with real-time biometric analysis to be quickly applied to wearable healthcare industries.

One author of the study is Professor Sei Kwang Han.

The study is published in Science Advances.

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