A team of researchers in China has developed a contact lens that can be used to monitor changes in eye pressure and to administer glaucoma medication when needed, the German press agency reported.
In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the Sun Yat-Sen University team describes the development of their lens and its performance in pigs and rabbits.
Glaucoma is pressure in certain parts of the eye that results in damage to the optic nerve. The disease has always been difficult to treat due to seemingly random changes in eye pressure – patients cannot feel when the pressure rises and therefore do not know when to apply their eye drops. But the new contact lens can continuously monitor the pressure in the eye, and when certain thresholds are reached, it can automatically deliver medication to the anterior chamber through the corneal barrier, providing direct relief and preventing damage.
The lens is double coated with an air pocket between the layers. The air sac is part of an electrical cantilever system – pressure from inside the eye compresses the air sac, alerting the electronics to the need to deliver the drug automatically.
The researchers note that the lens is cordless and battery-free and could potentially be used to treat a wide variety of eye conditions, according to the Medical Xpress website. So far, researchers have tested their lens on rabbits and pigs and found it able to continuously monitor changes in eye pressure and deliver brimonidine when needed.