German researchers at the Fraunhofer Society have developed new contact lenses they believe could help fight off serious corneal infections.
The feature that differentiates Fraunhofer Society's contacts from typical contacts is that they are treated with a layer of plasma. Scientists say the thin layer of plasma shouldn't have any issues on vision and helps naturally prevent the growth of eye pathogens.
To increase the anti-bacterial properties of the plasma, researchers chose to use plasma-activated water (PAW) in their design. Below the PAW layer, designers manufactured their lenses with silicone hydrogel. Scientists say the layer of silicone hydrogel absorbs the PAW to help naturally reduce the spread of harmful bacteria.
According to the latest data from their tests, researchers have shown harmful amoebae cannot survive in PAW for longer than a few minutes. When scientists placed PAW hydrogels on top of an infected donor's cornea, they discovered the bad bacteria were killed almost instantly.
While these results are promising, professors still need to learn about PAW's unique properties and how to properly use them to treat diseases. In particular, researchers are interested in how PAW-treated hydrogels could potentially ward off fungal infections like mycoses.
Doctors Joachim Storsberg and Christopher Plog were lead authors on this new research. Dr. Storsberg works at Fraunhofer Institute's studying applied polymers and Dr. Plog teaches at Berlin's Beuth University.
According to global research, a staggering one in four people who have partial or complete vision loss is caused by a corneal infection. That makes corneal diseases one of the world's leading causes of preventable blindness.
One of the most serious and common corneal infections is keratitis. Key symptoms of this disease include eye pain, redness, and blurred vision. If you or someone you know starts to experience these symptoms, it's important to see a doctor immediately to prevent serious sight loss.
If it's caught early enough, doctors could successfully get rid of keratitis with a simple round of antibiotics. Unfortunately, many patients with later stage keratitis need a more serious corneal transplant.
Since it might be awhile before PAW contacts are released to the public, optometrists urge everyone who wears contacts to practice immaculate hygiene. A few of the most important rules contact wearers must follow to prevent infection include the following: never wear contacts in/near water and never sleep with contacts on. It's also important to never wash contacts with tap water.
If possible, eye doctors recommend contact lens users wear daily disposable lenses (aka dailies). The reason why optometrists prefer dailies is because they dramatically reduce a wearer's risk of getting a bacterial infection. Also, since you have to throw these lenses away every night, there's no chance for protein or lipid deposits accumulating.
Founded in 1949, the Fraunhofer Society in Munich is one of the world's premier research organizations with branches all around the world. Anyone can learn more about studies at the Fraunhofer Society at this website.