Study: Specialized smart soft contact lenses can solve the global problem of glaucoma diagnosis and management

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University biomedical engineer Chi Hwan Lee’s vision to develop specialized smart soft contact lenses that can accurately measure intraocular pressure (IOP) in a person’s eye could be the latest answer to stopping glaucoma-related blindness.

Lee, a Leslie A. Geddes Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, led a research team that developed new eye-wear technology to continuously monitor patients’ IOP readings more comfortably and more precise.

The technology provides another option for eye care specialists to identify glaucoma, which the Glaucoma Research Foundation says can steal a person’s vision without warning signs or pain and affects more than 80 million people worldwide. world.

The only known modifiable risk factor is a person’s low IOP, which is difficult to monitor for long periods of time, especially during sleep.

Although exams can be performed in a specialist’s office and home monitoring systems are available, they all have their limitations. For example, in-office measurements are time-consuming, and current home technology is difficult to use, uncomfortable, and does not collect enough data at the right time or over long enough periods for specialists to use the information properly. to make optimized treatment decisions.

The new technology is highlighted in a study published in the journal Nature Communications. The study compares Purdue’s technology to the current gold standard and other home monitoring systems and examines how Purdue technology can collect important IOP measurements for 24-hour cycles, even during sleep .

The technology was developed by a multidisciplinary group of engineers and healthcare researchers from Purdue Colleges of Engineering and Veterinary Medicine and Indiana University School of Optometry.

“The greatest increase in IOP often occurs when people are lying down, when nighttime IOP is typically 10% to 20% higher than daytime IOP. noticeable, even if daytime measurements in the clinic or at home indicate normal IOP,” said Lee, who has a joint appointment at the School of Mechanical Engineering and a courtesy appointment at the School of Engineering. materials.

Lee, who has been working on the technology for six years, specializes in sticktronics, which are sticker-like items containing electronics or smart technology. His laboratory develops wearable biomedical devices capable of continuously monitoring chronic diseases or health problems in an unobtrusive way.

Dr. Pete Kollbaum and Dawn Meyer from Indiana University School of Optometry present new smart soft contact lenses and how they can be used to detect glaucoma. (Photo Purdue University/Rebecca McElhoe) Download image

Dr. Pete Kollbaum, professor and associate dean for research at the Indiana University School of Optometry and director of the school’s Borish Center for Ophthalmic Research, has worked with Lee since 2019. Kollbaum’s Clinical Optics Research Lab group, which studies contact lens technologies, assisted with human clinical testing and provided feedback for design improvements.

Some of today’s wearable tonometers – or devices that measure the pressure inside the eye – have an integrated circuit chip, which results in increased thickness and is stiffer than a typical commercial soft contact lens, causing in many cases an inconvenience to patients. Lee’s version is different.

“To address this unmet need, we have developed a unique class of smart soft contact lenses built on various commercial brands of soft contact lenses for 24-hour continuous IOP monitoring, even while sleeping at home. “, said Lee.

“Our smart soft contact lenses retain the lens’ intrinsic characteristics of potency, biocompatibility, softness, transparency, wettability, oxygen transmissibility and overnight wearability. Having all of these characteristics at the same Time is crucial to successfully translating smart soft contact lenses into glaucoma care, but these features are lacking in current wearable eye tonometers.

The contact lens sensor tonometer developed by Purdue creates a wireless recording that is transmitted to a receiver in a pair of glasses for daytime IOP measurement and to a sleep mask for daytime IOP measurement. sleep.

Complete 24-hour IOP rhythm data can be shared remotely with clinicians via an encrypted server. The tonometer can generate an audible alert for IOP elevation detection, allowing appropriate action to be taken and reducing the need for clinic visits.

“This tonometer is significantly more comfortable than any other type of contact lens sensor we’ve encountered and more comfortable than any IOP sensor currently commercially available,” Kollbaum said. “It has to do with the technology that Lee uses to apply the sensor to the lens, maintaining a very thin overall sensor, and the fact that the lens itself is a proven, commercially available lens, taking advantage of the clinical studies and the associated time and money that contact lens manufacturers have spent to ensure a comfortable lens.

Kollbaum said that not only do specialty contact lenses provide sharp vision, as any contact lens would, but the technology is also expanding the benefits for patients and eye care specialists, who have been looking for years cheaper and more comfortable ways to monitor eye changes. .

lee-portrait
Chi Hwan Lee, Leslie A. Geddes Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. (Photo Purdue University/Rebecca McElhoe) Download image

“The eye is a very difficult part of the body that is even softer, more sensitive and curvilinear compared to the skin,” Lee said. “We hope that our approach can also be adapted to help and detect other chronic eye diseases and for other functions.” Lee and his colleagues have a proposal for additional clinical trials with glaucoma patients who have dry eye disease or who have had glaucoma surgery. They are also working with Boomerang Ventures, with whom Purdue has a partnership, to integrate the technology into clinical practice.

Besides Lee and Kollbaum, the research team members were Shin Ae Park, Seul Ah Lee, Bryan W. Boudouris, Yumin Dai, Keely E. Harris, Bongjoong Kim, Ho Joong Kim, Kyunghun Kim, Hyowon (Hugh) Lee , Kangying Liu, Haesoo Moon, Woohyun Park, Jay V. Shah and Jinyuan Zhang of Purdue; Dawn Meyer of Indiana University School of Optometry; and Pedro Irazoqui and Brett Collar of Johns Hopkins University.

The technology was disclosed to the Purdue Research Foundation’s Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC), which filed a provisional patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to protect intellectual property. For more information on licensing opportunities, contact OTC’s Patrick Finnerty at [email protected] at 2021-LEE-69240.

Lee’s work at the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering is just one of many life-changing projects carried out by biomedical engineering faculty and students. Many of these projects are partnerships between Weldon, healthcare providers, medical researchers, and medical device companies that are key to moving aspects of classrooms and research labs to clinical settings.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a leading public research institution that develops practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked in each of the past five years as one of the 10 most innovative universities in the United States by US News & World Report, Purdue delivers groundbreaking research and breakthrough discoveries. Committed to hands-on, online, real-world learning, Purdue provides transformative education for all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, allowing more students than ever to graduate debt-free. Learn how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at https://stories.purdue.edu.

Writer: Matthew Oates, 765-586-7496 (mobile); [email protected]; @mo_oates

Media contact: Brian Huchel, [email protected]

Sources: Chi Hwan Lee, [email protected];

Pete Kollbaum, [email protected]


Smart soft contact lenses for 24-hour continuous monitoring of intraocular pressure in glaucoma care

Nature Communication

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-33254-4

The summary is available online.

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