It is reported that 4 million Americans and 65 people worldwide have a condition known as glaucoma, a group of diseases that affect the eye and results in a gradual loss of vision. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness.
Causes of Glaucoma
According to the Mayo Clinic, abnormally high pressure inside your eye, or intraocular pressure, is usually what causes the damage to the optic nerve, causing vision loss (glaucoma).
”Smart” Contact Lenses
UC Davis biomedical engineers have developed a “smart contact lense” device that may be able to help the millions of people affected with glaucoma. Still in prototype phase, these “smart” contact lenses can continuously check and monitor intraocular pressure, and possibly even dispense medication to the eye!
Glaucoma patients are required to have regular check-ups, in order to have their intraocular pressure tested. However, these “regular” check-ups happen every few months, and doctors and the patients are not able to proactively monitor, and ideally prevent, further vision loss.
In fact, the The National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that “immediately treating people who have early stage glaucoma can delay progression of the disease.”
Early diagnosis is key
The scary thing about glaucoma: it has no noticeable signs or symptoms, except the gradual vision loss. Once the vision loss has begun, however, the glaucoma may be in a more advanced state. For these reasons, early diagnoses and treatment are imperative and can minimize or prevent vision loss.
As stated in TFOT, “James Brandt, a professor of ophthalmology at UC Davis, explained the complexity involved [with the smart contact lense]: ‘It's very different from situations like cardiac disease or diabetes, where patients can wear devices that measure heart rate or blood pressure 24 hours a day for a week or more to get a better idea of what's going on; we don't have that for glaucoma, and that's one of the biggest clinical frustrations we have.’”
For more information on the Smart Contact Lense:
UC Davis: http://www.news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=8722
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