A new smart contact lens for monitoring and controlling intraocular pressure in glaucoma

Glaucoma is a common eye disease in which damage to the optic nerve is caused by increased intraocular pressure (IOP) caused by blockage of the drainage canal in the eye. This condition narrows peripheral vision and can lead to vision loss in severe cases. Glaucoma patients must manage their IOP levels for the rest of their lives. Automatic monitoring and control of IOP in these patients will significantly improve their quality of life.

Recently, a research team at POSTECH developed a smart contact lens by combining an IOP sensor and a flexible drug delivery system to measure IOP and manage drug administration.

Professor Sei Kwang Han and Dr. A POSTECH research team led by Tae Yeon Kim (Department of Materials Science and Engineering) has developed a wireless theranostic smart contact lens for intraocular pressure monitoring and control in glaucoma. Their results were published recently Nature communication.

IOP sensors currently available for glaucoma patients do not function to administer the appropriate amount of medication in response to IOP levels.

The smart contact lens developed by the research team has an IOP sensor that uses hollow nanowires made of gold. It is integrated with flexible drug delivery systems, wireless power and communication systems, and an application-specific integrated circuit chip for both monitoring and controlling IOP in glaucoma. Notably, the IOP sensor exhibited high sensitivity to eye strain, excellent chemical stability, and biocompatibility. Furthermore, flexible drug delivery systems can provide on-demand delivery of timolol for IOP control.

The researchers successfully demonstrated that a theranostic smart contact lens enabled real-time IOP measurement and appropriate amount of drug release to match the degree of IOP in glaucomatous rabbits.

The new smart contact lens is expected to enable personalized glaucoma treatment with maximum efficacy and minimum side effects. Also, the feedback system will be applied to various wearable devices besides smart contact lenses.

Professor Han, who led the study, commented, “We look forward to the early commercialization of the newly developed theranostic smart contact lens for the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma intraocular pressure to provide compliance in glaucoma patients.”

This study was supported by the Basic Science Research Program, the Korea Medical Device Development Fund Grant, the BRIDGE Research Program, and the Bio and Medical Technology Development Program of the National Research Foundation (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT, Korea.


Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)

Journal Reference:

Kim, TY, et al. (2022) A wireless theranostic smart contact lens for intraocular pressure monitoring and control in glaucoma. Nature communication. doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-34597-8.

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