Innovative contact lens can detect vision loss disease early

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Glaucoma is a serious eye condition that affects about 3 million people in the U.S. It can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss, often without early symptoms.

One critical way to diagnose glaucoma is by detecting slight increases in eye pressure, a task that is not only difficult but also uncomfortable with current methods like the “air puff tests” used during eye exams.

Researchers are making strides toward a more comfortable and continuous monitoring solution.

A new report in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces by Dengbao Xiao and his team introduces a “smart” contact lens designed to accurately measure eye pressure, a key indicator of glaucoma, without being affected by changes in temperature.

Typical methods to monitor eye pressure aren’t ideal for continuous use and can be influenced by environmental factors like temperature changes.

This can be problematic because simple things like stepping outside into a different climate can skew the accuracy of pressure measurements.

To tackle this challenge, Xiao and his colleagues developed a contact lens equipped with two miniature spiral circuits. These circuits have unique natural vibration patterns that change in response to even the smallest adjustments in eye pressure and diameter.

The researchers embedded these circuits within layers of polydimethylsiloxane, a material commonly used in contact lenses, making the device both durable and effective for everyday wear.

The smart lens works by transmitting real-time data about eye pressure. Researchers read these vibrations wirelessly through a coil connected to a computer, which is held near the lens.

They designed the lens to consistently provide accurate readings despite challenges such as eye movement, exposure to moisture, and daily wear and tear.

Testing of the prototype lenses involved placing them on pig eye specimens in a controlled environment where ocular pressures and temperatures varied. The team monitored pressures across a wide range from 50 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

Initially, using the data from just one circuit caused significant inaccuracies in the readings, deviating by as much as 87%.

However, when they combined data from both circuits, the accuracy improved dramatically, with deviations as low as 7% from the actual pressure.

This dual-circuit approach effectively compensates for temperature-induced errors, ensuring the lens’s reliability under varying conditions.

The development of this dual-circuit smart contact lens represents a significant advancement in the early detection and monitoring of glaucoma.

It promises a future where individuals at risk of this eye disease can have their eye pressure monitored continuously and comfortably, potentially preventing the progression of glaucoma and preserving vision.

This technology could greatly improve quality of life and health outcomes for millions at risk of this often debilitating disease.

If you care about eye health, please read studies about how vitamin B may help fight vision loss, and MIND diet may reduce risk of vision loss disease.

For more information about eye disease, please see recent studies about how to protect your eyes from glaucoma, and results showing this eye surgery may reduce dementia risk.

The research findings can be found in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

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