A team of researchers in China has developed a contact lens that can be used to monitor eye pressure changes and to administer glaucoma drugs when needed, reported the German News Agency.
In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the team from Sun Yat-Sen University describes developing their lens and its performance in pigs and rabbits.
Glaucoma is pressure within parts of the eye that leads to optic nerve damage. The disease has historically been difficult to treat due to seemingly random changes in eye pressure—patients cannot feel when the pressure increases, and thus do not know when to apply their eye drops. But the new contact lens that can continuously monitor pressure in the eye, and when certain thresholds are reached, it can automatically dispense drugs into the anterior chamber across the corneal barrier, providing direct relief and heading off damage.
The lens is double-layered with a pocket of air between layers. The air pocket serves as part of a cantilevered electrical system—pressure from within the eye squeezes the air pocket, alerting the electronic components of the need to administer the drug automatically.
The researchers note that the lens is wireless and battery-free and could conceivably be used to treat a wide variety of eye conditions, according to the Medical Xpress website. The researchers have tested their lens thus far on rabbits and pigs and found it capable of continuously monitoring eye pressure changes and of administering brimonidine when it was needed.