A research team at POSTECH has recently developed a wireless theranostic smart contact lens that combines an IOP sensor and a flexible drug delivery system to control IOP measurement and drug administration in glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a common eye disease characterized by malfunctioning of the optic nerve due to blocked drainage canals in the eye, leading to increased intraocular pressure (IOP). This elevated pressure can cause narrowing of peripheral vision and even complete vision loss in severe cases. Management of IOP levels is crucial for glaucoma patients, as it directly affects their quality of life.
The findings of the research, led by Professor Sei Kwang Hahn and Dr. Tae Yeon Kim (Department of Materials Science and Engineering), were published in Nature Communications.
Currently, IOP sensors available on the market do not have the capability to provide the correct dosage of medication in response to the IOP levels. The research team's smart contact lens contains an IOP sensor that makes use of hollow gold nanowires. It is integrated with a flexible medication delivery system, a wireless power and communication system, and an application-specific integrated circuit chip for both monitoring and controlling IOP in glaucoma.
Schematic illustration of a theranostic smart contact lens for glaucoma treatment. Credit: POSTECH
Notably, the IOP sensor has demonstrated great chemical stability, biocompatibility, and high sensitivity to ocular strain. Additionally, the adaptable drug delivery system can give timolol for IOP control as needed.
Theranostic smart contact lenses allowed the researchers to successfully show real-time IOP assessment in rabbits with glaucoma and appropriate medicine delivery based on IOP levels.
The new smart contact lens is expected to enable a customized glaucoma treatment with optimal efficacy and minimal side effects. The feedback mechanism would also be usable with other wearables besides smart contact lenses.
Professor Hahn who led this study commented, "We hope the early commercialization of the newly developed theranostic smart contact lens for diagnosing and treating glaucoma intraocular pressure to provide glaucoma patients' compliance."
Tae Yeon Kim et al, Wireless theranostic smart contact lens for monitoring and control of intraocular pressure in glaucoma, Nature Communications (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-34597-8