Smart LED contact lens could diagnose diabetes, treat diabetic retinopathy

Jan. 23, 2020
Researchers have developed smart LED contact lens technology that allows diagnosis of diabetes and treatment of diabetic retinopathy.

Researchers at the Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH; Pohang, South Korea) have developed smart LED contact lens technology that allows diagnosis of diabetes and treatment of diabetic retinopathy.

Professor Sei Kwang Hahn and his research team, including his PhD student, Geon-Hui Lee, invented the smart contact lens and a wearable medical device that can diagnose diabetes and treat diabetic retinopathy. The pair collaborated with a research group led by Zhenan Bao from Department of Chemical Engineering at Stanford University and David Myung from Stanford Medicine Ophthalmology (Stanford, CA).

The smart contact lens integrates a micro-LED and photodetector that can measure glucose concentration in the conjunctival blood vessels by analyzing the near-infrared light. With this development, they succeeded in diabetic diagnosis. They tested the contact lenses on rabbit eyes with diabetic retinopathy disease and irradiated light repeatedly for a month. As a result, they confirmed that there was significant reduction of angiogenesis (production of new blood vessels) in the retina and verified clinical feasibility of the contact lens for diabetic retinopathy therapy. 

This newly developed device will not only let diabetic patients monitor their blood-sugar level in real time, but also enable medical treatment for retinopathy, which is caused by diabetic complications. 

Meanwhile, Professor Hahn and his research team have gained great attention from the academics by developing a smart contact lens that can diagnose diabetes by analyzing the glucose concentration in tears and deliver drugs to treat diabetic retinopathy. Preliminary clinical tests for the developers are expected to be done in the first half of 2020. 

On the basis of these results, the researchers also developed a smart wearable medical device that can analyze with high sensitivity the glucose concentration in sweat and they verified that it could be clinically feasible for diabetic diagnosis. Also, with PHI Biomed (Seoul, South Korea), they developed a Bluetooth system that can send data wirelessly to allow patients to check their diabetic diagnosis results on their smartphones. 

Full details of the work appear in the journal Nature Reviews Materials.

Got biophotonics-related news to share with us? Contact Lee Dubay, Associate Editor, BioOptics World

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About the Author

BioOptics World Editors

We edited the content of this article, which was contributed by outside sources, to fit our style and substance requirements. (Editor’s Note: BioOptics World has folded as a brand and is now part of Laser Focus World, effective in 2022.)

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