New Contact Lenses May Treat Diabetic Retinopathy

Recently, a team of scientists from South Korea has developed smart contact lenses that can help people who have been diagnosed with diabetes type 2 in multiple ways from helping in monitoring the glucose levels in the blood to releasing drugs that can help effectively manage symptoms of diabetic retinopathy.

Statistically, type 2 diabetes is among the fastest-growing health conditions around the globe. Scientists have stated that there may be various causes of the spread of diabetes including the prevalence of sedentary lifestyles, poor diets, and the rise in cases of obesity which is among the top contributors to metabolic disease and diabetes.

The statistics on type 2 diabetes showed that the number of cases around the globe has now crossed over four hundred million cases. Furthermore, health experts are expecting these figures to double in ten years from now.

The growing number of cases are a big cause of concern as type 2 diabetes is still one of the most challenging health conditions to control. A diabetic person has to make major lifestyle changes and consume only specific foods in order to prevent further complications of the disease.

If the disease is not controlled on time, it can lead to many other problems including renal failure, heart disease or even cardiovascular event, and retinopathy, which is the leading cause of blindness in adults at the moment.

Currently, the only standard method that is used for the treatment of diabetes includes not only medicines and lifestyle changes but also requires the diabetic person to constantly monitor their blood glucose levels to keep an eye on any developments in the disease.

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In addition, constant monitoring is fundamental in tracking the progress of the treatment given for type 2 diabetes so that doctors and health professionals can suggest alternative options for the disease or related issues as soon as they notice that the current treatment is not working.

However, many of the patients with type 2 diabetes are not able to monitor and keep a check on the progress of their disease due to multiple reasons which may also cause difficulty for doctors in prescribing medicines.

Therefore, scientists are conducting further research to understand the development and complications associated with type 2 diabetes to develop specific bioelectronic devices that can help patients in managing their health and possibly treat the disease side by side.

However, prior to the smart contact lenses developed by Korean scientists, there were no devices that helped in monitoring diabetes along with delivering drugs for the treatment of related complications.

Now, the scientists from the Pohang University of Science and Technology located in South Korea have provided the first wearable device that can do both in the form of smart contact lenses.

Read the study here. 

These lenses are built using biocompatible polymer and contain a microcontroller chip along with thin electrical circuits both of which give it the ability to perform the function of monitoring as well as drug delivery.

For testing the smart lenses’ effectiveness, the team of scientists led by Professor Sim Jae-Yoon and Professor Hahn Sei Kwang used them lab rabbit models. All of the rabbits were diabetic and the scientists tested the tear sugar levels in them.

Then, they compared the results from the lenses with the results from the traditional blood glucose levels tests. It was then discovered that not only can the smart lens monitor glucose levels with accuracy but can also be used to release drugs for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy.

With these positive results, the scientists concluded the study by saying “By being the first to develop wireless-powered smart contact lenses that are equipped to diagnose diabetes and treat retinopathy, we expect that our research will contribute greatly to the advancement of related industries,”