British researchers have just developed a hi-tech contact lens that can accurately measure a person's intraocular eye pressure (IOP). Doctors around the world are hopeful these new lenses will help glaucoma patients keep accurate data on their IOP levels.
Engineers at the University of Liverpool designed these contact lenses out of soft silicone hydrogel. There's a tiny pressure sensor inside each of these lenses that was designed to measure IOP pressure and send those readings wirelessly to a designated controller.
A recently released clinical trial examined the accuracy of these contacts against other IOP detecting devices. 12 glaucoma patients at both the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and Moorfields Eye Hospital took part in this trial.
Doctors found that these contact lenses gave just as accurate IOP readings as standard medical equipment. Also, all 12 patients reported that the contact lenses were far more comfortable than typical IOP measuring devices.
Ahmed Elsheikh, a professor of biomaterial mechanics at the University of Liverpool, believes these new contact lenses will help doctors and glaucoma patients keep better records of IOP levels over the years. He went on to say, "The results of this study are very positive and show that the device is comfortable for people to wear and gives good measurements of IOP."
The National Institute for Health Research funded this research. Also, contact lens manufacturer Ultravision CLPL helped engineers at the University of Liverpool design their IOP detecting lenses.
There are many different kinds of glaucoma, but all forms of the disease affect the optic nerve and the retina. An elevated IOP level is a standard warning sign for glaucoma.
Although glaucoma can present visual symptoms, these usually occur only after the disease has progressed a great deal. Patients generally only notice a gradual weakening of vision over long stretches of time.
Eye doctors recommend everyone get yearly vision tests to detect glaucoma early on. Although there's no treatment for glaucoma, there are ways doctors can slow down the disease's progression. A few common treatment strategies include IOP reducing drops, beta blockers, and laser surgery.