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Soon smart contact lenses to detect glaucoma?

  • May 15, 2024
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It is a chronic eye disease that affects 1 to 2% of the population over 40 years old: glaucoma. The latter is characterized by “eye pain, intermittent visual fog, decreased vision, especially on the sides. Central vision is normal, but it is disturbed all around, as if looking into a tunnel,” as explained by Health Insurance. Glaucoma, which has been silent for a long time, can be identified, notably by analyzing intraocular pressure.

Chinese researchers working on contact lenses “intelligent” capable of measuring eye pressure and detect glaucoma. Still in the development phase, the progress of this prototype is published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. Ces works research are funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

Glaucoma: how do these “smart” lenses work?

To create this device, the researchers based themselves on an examination called tonometry. The latter makes it possible to measure the intraocular pressure at a given time. “A slight increase in pressure, an otherwise imperceptible symptom caused by fluid accumulation around the cornea, can lead to a diagnosis of glaucoma,” explain the researchers.

Specialists therefore wanted to create lenses capable of continuously measuring intraocular pressure. But changes in temperature, such as going outside in cold weather, could skew the results.

To remedy this, researchers created a measuring contact lens called “intelligent”. The latter works thanks to two miniature spiral circuits, “each with a unique natural vibration pattern that changes when stretched in minute ways, such as when pressure and diameter of the eye change,” can we read in the press release.

To do this, they have “sandwiched these tiny circuits between layers of polydimethylsiloxane, a typical contact lens material.” Subsequently, the authors retrieved the data from these models using a coil connected to a computer. “Transmitted signals were not affected by tests to mimic eye movements, prolonged exposure to moisture (to simulate humid conditions in the eye), and daily wear and tear.”

These “smart” lenses could help detect glaucoma early

Then, the researchers wanted to test this device. In their laboratory analysis, they used three pig eye samples. The researchers subjected them to different conditions, such as temperatures ranging from 10 to 50 degrees Celsius, then collected eye pressure and temperatures. Using data from a single circuit, the authors found that the results deviated by up to 87% from the actual values. But using both circuits, the data varied by 7%. According to them, using these two circuits would eliminate errors linked to temperature fluctuation.

Also, the authors believe that this device, still in the development phase, “presents immense potential as a new generation of all-weather intraocular pressure (IOP) monitoring devices.”

Sources :

  • Temperature Self-Compensating Intelligent Wireless Measuring Contact Lens for Quantitative Intraocular Pressure Monitoring – ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
  • ‘Smart’ contact lenses could someday enable wireless glaucoma detection – ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces (communiqué)
  • Diagnose ocular hypertonia and glaucoma early – Health insurance
author avatar
Louis Tardy