Glowing contact lenses could reduce vision loss in diabetics

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Type-2 diabetes leads to eventual visual impairment in most sufferers. This is thought to be due to damage to the blood vessels in the eye, which restricts oxygen flow to certain cells. These ‘rod’ cells require more oxygen at night when it is dark. To combat this effect, a team of researchers at Caltech have developed contact lenses that users will wear throughout the night. The contact lenses contain radial rods of radioactive tritium (a form of hydrogen) gas. A phosphorescent coating within the rods causes the tritium to glow as it decays. It thereby emits a light source directly onto the retina. This consistent source of light throughout the night aims to keep the rod cells in a less oxygen-demanding state. By doing so, it reduces the accumulative effects of vision loss.

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