Chinese Research Team Introduces “Smart” Contact Lens for Glaucoma Treatment

There may be a new treatment coming for glaucoma, the second-highest cause of blindness in the world, thanks to the efforts of a dedicated team of Chinese researchers. The team has developed a prototype compact wireless device that can detect and then mitigate one of the most typical causes of glaucoma, escalating eye pressure. To date, the device has been tested on the eyes of pigs and live rabbits.

The device’s lens, sporting an “eye-catching” laser-cut snowflake aesthetic, contains various sensors embedded within to reduce the chance of eye irritation. It is specifically meant to treat acute angle-closure glaucoma – a less common form of the condition usually induced by rapid or long-gestating fluid pressure build-up inside the eye.

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Coated with brimonidine, a glaucoma-fighting drug, the double-layered lens transmits its medication through an ultra-thin air film. It hooks into an electrical circuit capable of gauging intraocular pressure changes when the air pocket is compressed from outward eye pressure. If a high-risk level of eye pressure is reached, the system is signaled to release brimonidine. The drug flows to the cornea from the underside of the lens in an electrical current-based process called iontophoresis.

Several rounds of further successful animal testing are on the docket ahead of eventual trials on human subjects.