A novel contact lens device is under development which may help to monitor fluctuations in intraocular pressure.
A small clinical study to explore the safety of a new device prototype has just concluded at the NIHR Moorfields Clinical Research Facility at Moorfields Eye Hospital and at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital. Results are yet to be published.
If intraocular pressure (IOP) is too high, it can cause the optic nerve to become damaged and cause permanent sight loss. Currently IOP is measured in glaucoma patients during clinic visits which are usually twice a year, but IOP can be affected by psychological and environmental factors - such as stress or sleeping, which can make some measurements unreliable.
The contact lens device will be developed over the next few years and the hope is that a pressure sensor will detect changes in IOP continuously over a period of up to 24 hours. These changes could then be transmitted wirelessly to an easily portable external controller (the size of a mobile phone), which collects the data and which would provide clinicians with much needed data to assist with glaucoma treatment.
Professor David Garway-Heath, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital, said:
“The safety study showed that the contact lens device was sufficiently comfortable to wear for an hour and the two active sensors demonstrated that, with further refinement, the lens may be able to reliably track changes in the pressure of the eye. These exciting results provide a strong basis for further funding applications to refine the lens design and progress towards a commercial device."
Funding to develop the device and to support the clinical study was provided by the National Institute for Health Research. The development team is now looking to refine manufacturing techniques in order to take the device to the next step towards commercialisation.
Notes to editors
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