Smart lenses

’Smart’ contact lenses could measure pressure within the eye and dispense medication accordingly.

’Smart’ contact lenses that measure pressure within the eye and dispense medication accordingly could be made possible thanks to biomedical engineers at UC Davis.

To develop the smart lenses, Tingrui Pan, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, and post-doctoral researcher, Hailin Cong, started with a material called polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS).

They then developed a method for placing powdered silver on the PDMS in a precise pattern, to create conductive wires. The silver also has antimicrobial properties.

The researchers were able to shape the PDMS-silver into a contact-lens shape, and show that it could function as a simple pressure sensor.

Glaucoma, a build-up of pressure in the eye, is a leading cause of blindness worldwide. A contact lens that could continuously measure pressure within the eye and relay the data to a computer would allow doctors to learn more about glaucoma and improve patient treatment.

Pan said the researchers plan to apply for approval to begin trials of the lenses in humans. They are collaborating with Prof James Brandt of the Department of Ophthalmology at the UC Davis School of Medicine.

These contact lenses with a pattern of conductive silver wires could be used to measure pressure inside the eye and study glaucoma, a major cause of blindness