Smart contact lens with potential to monitor intraocular pressure

http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2014/140107/ncomms3982/full/ncomms3982.html

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology scientists have developed a light, flexible, ultra-thin membrane with the potential to detect intraocular pressure in glaucoma.  Researchers claim that the technology “could offer significant advantages over existing solutions in terms of thickness, lightness, and transparency and, hence, comfort for the patient.”

The device consists of layered polymer films, one of which is a semiconductor. Gauge sensors monitor intraocular pressure in response to strain, which detects the high eye pressure typical of glaucoma.  In trials, the scientists transferred the material onto plastic contact lenses on an artificial eye.

The researchers must overcome technical obstacles before their solution is commercially viable. The method of attaching electronics to the contact lens must be optimized to include effects of the aqueous ocular environment.  Additionally, in the lab, the required energy is provided from an external source.  A different solution would be needed for a unit attached to a human eye.

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