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July 2024

Researchers have developed a prototype ‘smart’ contact lens that can accurately measure eye pressure regardless of temperature, according to a study published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. This advancement could lead to improved detection and monitoring of glaucoma.

Previous smart contact lens designs for measuring eye pressure have struggled with temperature changes affecting the accuracy of the measurements. To address this, a research team led by Dr Dengbao Xiao (Beijing Institute of Technology), aimed to create a contact lens that could reliably measure and transmit real-time eye pressure data across a wide temperature range.

Design and testing

Dr Xiao’s team embedded two miniature spiral circuits between layers of a conventional contact lens material. Each circuit has a distinct vibration signature that changes slightly when stretched by variations in eye pressure and size.

The vibration patterns could be wirelessly read by holding a sensor coil near the lens connected to a computer. The lenses proved resistant to interference from factors like eye movements, moisture exposure, and daily wear and tear, during laboratory testing.

To evaluate their temperature performance, the researchers tested the lenses on pig eye specimens while controlling both the intraocular pressure and temperature conditions. The lenses accurately monitored and transmitted pressure readings from 10°C to 50°C.

Improving accuracy with dual circuits

When calculating pressure from just one of the circuits, the values deviated from the true intraocular pressure by up to 87%. However, by combining data from both embedded circuits, this temperature-related error dropped to only around 7% compared to the actual pressure.

They resolved that the dual-circuit design allows the smart lenses to self-correct for temperature fluctuations that could previously throw off continuous eye pressure monitoring using contact lenses.

Potential for glaucoma management

The researchers believe their temperature resistant smart contact lenses could enable more reliable 24/7 self-monitoring of eye pressure fluctuations for glaucoma patients.

While still a prototype, it shows promise for improving glaucoma management and vision preservation for millions worldwide.

This article has been republished courtesy of Mivison.