Over 80 million people are affected by glaucoma worldwide, and it can take a person’s vision without any preventative early warning signals, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation. According to a press release from Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering earlier this month, a new set of smart contact lenses created by Chi Hwan Lee, the Leslie A. Geddes Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, may now be able to stop the disease in its tracks.
The new lenses accomplish this by precisely measuring intraocular pressure (IOP), which is challenging to do for long-periods-of-time, especially when sleeping, in a person’s eye.
“The greatest increase in IOP frequently happens while people are lying down, when over night IOP is typically 10% to 20% higher than daytime IOP.” Even if daytime in-clinic or at-home readings show normal IOP, vision loss may occur during sleep without the patient recognising,” stated Lee.
Lee created the new intelligent contact lenses to address this concerning and serious issue.
For continuous 24-hour IOP monitoring, including while sleeping at home, we created a special class of smart soft contact lenses based on several commercial brands of soft contact lenses, to address this unmet need, Lee continued.
“Our smart soft contact lenses maintain the inherent lens characteristics of lens power, biocompatibility, softness, transparency, wettability, oxygen transmissibility, & night time wearability.” Having all of these qualities at the same time is critical to the success of converting smart soft contact lenses into glaucoma care, but these features are currently lacking in wearable ocular tonometers.”
The lenses include a tonometer, which creates a wireless recording that is transferred to a receiver in a pair of eyeglasses for daytime IOP measurement & a sleep mask for night time IOP measurement.
24-hour IOP rhythm data
As a result, 24-hour IOP rhythm data are gathered and made remotely accessible to doctors on a encrypted server. Even better, the tonometer is completely comfortable for the user to wear.
According to Dr. Pete Kollbaum, professor and associate dean for research at the Indiana University School of Optometry and head of the school’s Borish Center for Ophthalmic Research, “This tonometer is significantly more comfortable than any other type of contact lens sensor we have encountered and more comfortable than any currently available commercially available IOP sensor.”
“This is due to the technology that Lee employs to apply the sensor to the lens, retaining a very thin overall sensor, as well as the fact that the lens itself is a time-tested, commercially available lens, leveraging the clinical studies and associated time and money that contact lens manufacturers have spent to assure a comfortable lens.”
The new lenses accomplish all of this while also improving crips vision. The researchers have big hopes for their new innovation now.
When compared to the skin, Lee remarked, “the eye is a very challenging body part since it is much softer, more delicate, & curvilinear.” “We hope that our approach can also be adapted to support and detect other chronic ocular diseases and functions.”