MAR 15, 2016 12:25 PM PDT

Approved ‘Smart' Lenses for The Treatment of Glaucoma

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
Wearable technologies are getting smarter everyday, incorporating biometrics about our bodies in new and unexpected ways. One such new set of devices are contact lenses that can accurately track and measure intraocular pressure, allowing doctors more precision in assessing risks for diseases like glaucoma. These ‘smart’ contact lenses were recently approved by the FDA.
 
FDA approves ‘smart' contact lenses

Increased intraocular pressure (IOP) can damage the optic nerve and progressively higher IOP is a potential sign for glaucoma, a common cause of blindness. Optometrists can measure IOP and track the progression of the disease, but the current measurement techniques can be unreliable, as IOP fluctuates during the day.
 
The new smart contacts eliminates the guesswork out of when to measure IOP, as it allows unprecedented 24-hour monitoring of IOP changes in the patient’s eyes. Produced by the Swiss startup Sensimed, the product, called Triggerfish, gained a nod from the FDA, who deemed it a low to moderate risk medical device for which there are no other equivalent comparisons.
 
"The Triggerfish gives the clinician 24-hour continuous monitoring of changes in IOP patterns that otherwise could not be obtained," said William Maisel, acting director of the Office of Device Evaluation in the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health. "This information can help determine the most critical time of day for the clinician to measure the patient's IOP."
 
The system consists of a one-time use soft silicone contact lens that that detects tiny changes in an eye’s volume for 24 hours. It also includes an adhesive antenna that’s worn around the eye, and functions to transmit data to a recorder worn around the neck. The recorder can then wirelessly transfer data to a health provider’s system, allowing controlled and continuous monitoring.
 
As IOP changes throughout the day with various daily activities, an eye exam that measures the pressure once could be inaccurate. With the Triggerfish system, doctors can make more accurate IOP measures that reflect a patient’s risks for glaucoma, a leading cause of irreversible vision loss. It is hoped that more accurate IOP measurements will facilitate better diagnosis and treatment for patients at risk for developing glaucoma. 
 
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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