Researchers are developing contact lenses that can help treat glaucoma. These innovative contact lenses will be able to monitor the fluid pressure in the eye and automatically dispense medicine as and when needed.
Glaucoma affects the eye’s optic nerve and is part of a group of neurodegenerative eye conditions. Inside the eyeball is a fluid known as aqueous humour, which is constantly produced by the eye. Any excess fluid that is produced gets drained out through tubes. If the fluid fails to drain, this can lead to a build-up of liquid, increasing eye pressure and damaging the optic nerve connecting the eye to the brain. Over time, this damage to the optic nerve can get worse and lead to vision loss if not treated in the early stages.
Millions of people around the world suffer with glaucoma; below are some of the risk factors for developing this eye condition:
- Intraocular pressure (high pressure within the eye)
- Asian, black or Hispanic heritage
- Family history of glaucoma
- Being over the age of 60
- Eye injury of eye surgery
- High blood pressure
- Being a woman
- Having high myopia
- Steroid medications
Your risk of developing glaucoma increases with age. There are some things you can do to slow down its progress and lower your risk of vision loss with glaucoma including the following:
- Exercise regularly – regular exercise can lower your eye pressure which may help prevent glaucoma
- Wear protective eyewear – eye injuries can lead to glaucoma, so it’s crucial that you wear safety eyewear when engaging in certain sports or using essential tools which has high power.
- Get regular eye exams – regular eye exams can detect glaucoma in its early stages and prevent serious damage from occurring
- Be aware of your family’s eye health history – if there is a family history of glaucoma, you are more at risk which means you may need more regular eye exams
Another way of reducing the risk of glaucoma is by taking glaucoma eye drops, if you’ve been diagnosed with glaucoma. These have been shown to effectively reduce high eye pressure which can lead to glaucoma. They need to be used regularly and consistently as prescribed by your doctor.
Advanced Drug Releasing Contact Lenses for Glaucoma Developed by The Researchers
Contact lenses for glaucoma are an excellent alternative to eye drops for glaucoma, if proven to work. These contact lenses, which are currently being trialed on animals, will be able to detect high blood pressure within the eye and release a drug which could help treat glaucoma.
This contact lens device is wireless and features an upper and lower lens with a pressure sensor, which is shaped like a snowflake. There is a wireless power transfer device between the lenses. As the pressure inside the eye increases, the gap between the lower and upper lens decreases. The pressure sensor detects this and sends a signal to the wireless power transfer which releases the drug for glaucoma. This drug acts to reduce the pressure within the eye.
The lenses are soft, minimally invasive and have the wireless capacity to communicate with other devices such as the smartphone to provide real-time information in regard to glaucoma and the pressures within the eye in addition to releasing the drugs.
While these contact lenses have not yet been tested on humans, they have been tested on animals and are said to have huge potential if successful not only in tackling glaucoma but in tackling other serious eye diseases too.
While lenses for glaucoma have not yet been released, their invention sounds promising. Advancements in contact lens technology have come along over the last 500 years. From hard rigid gas permeable contact lenses to soft hydrogel contact lenses and breathable silicone hydrogel contact lenses, there are so many designs available on the market to treat a wide range of vision problems, so hopefully, contact lenses for glaucoma will be the next big thing.
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