An easy-to-wear smart contact lens can monitor individuals for the first signs of glaucoma, allowing early treatment before vision can degenerate
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Spotted: Glaucoma is a common condition where the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, becomes damaged. This is often caused by fluid building up in the front part of the eye, which increases the pressure inside. It affects more than 80 million people worldwide. While it’s not possible to reverse any loss of vision that occurs before diagnosis, treatment can prevent further degeneration. And now, startup BVS Sight Inc. hopes to speed up diagnosis with a smart contact lens.
BVS was established to take advantage of technology developed by a Purdue research team. The team was led by Chi Hwan Lee, an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, and created smart contact lenses that can continuously monitor intraocular pressure (IOP) in the eye. This is the only known modifiable risk factor for glaucoma.
Previous wearable tonometers, which are devices that measure the pressure inside the eyes, use an integrated circuit chip. This makes the lens thicker and stiffer, and more uncomfortable, than typical soft lenses. Lee’s team gets around this by building on commercial brands of soft contact lenses to allow continuous 24-hour IOP monitoring, even when the wearer is asleep.
Written By: Lisa Magloff