Glaucoma—which is technically a gaggle of ophthalmic situations—usually happens in older adults and leads to gradual imaginative and prescient loss, with some sufferers experiencing whole blindness. The most typical type of the situation is named open-angle glaucoma and begins when the affected person’s drain construction (situated on the inside nook of the attention) loses its effectiveness. This leads to fluid build-up that will increase strain within the eye. The strain damages the attention’s optic nerve and prevents the nerve from conveying visible messages to the mind.
Conventional remedies for glaucoma embrace prescription eye drops, oral medicine, or surgical procedure. The primary two choices work to cut back fluid creation within the eye, however each may end up in an uncomfortable dry feeling they usually enhance the affected person’s danger of coronary heart or lung illness. Laser surgical procedure, whereas growing in recognition over latest years, is a riskier and extra invasive process than some sufferers are comfy with.
Now scientists could possibly cut back glaucoma’s impact on the attention utilizing “clever” contact lenses, which sit on prime of the cornea like another lens. A crew of ophthalmologists and biomedical engineers in China have developed a contact lens able to sensing strain fluctuations in a affected person’s eye. In a paper printed this week in Nature Communications, they describe higher and decrease lenses that overlap with a web-like strain sensor sandwiched between them. The result’s a lens able to detecting strain will increase with out blocking the affected person’s imaginative and prescient. (As a cool bonus, the particular lenses additionally make the affected person seem like they’ve golden irises.)
As soon as the sensor detects that the strain exceeds a selected stage, it sends a sign to a tiny wi-fi energy switch system additionally situated inside the lens. The system orders a hydrogel to launch a drug referred to as brimonidine, which counteracts the strain buildup. Whereas it sounds as if there are a number of parts packed into every lens, the researchers say the lenses are comfortable, non-irritating, and battery-free, making them each comfy and handy to put on.
To this point the lenses have been examined on pigs and rabbits, although the crew is planning human trials. Of their paper, the researchers level out that their expertise could show efficient in managing different ophthalmic ailments.