Smart contact lens to combat eye deficiencies
Source: imec

Smart contact lens to combat eye deficiencies

Imec and CMST (an imec-affiliated research group at Ghent University), together with their partners the Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria Fundación Jiménez Díaz (Madrid, Spain) and Holst Centre (an open innovation initiative from imec and TNO, the Netherlands) presented an artificial iris embedded in a smart contact lens.

The iris aperture is tunable through concentric rings on an integrated liquid crystal display (LCD). The smart contact lens is designed to operate for an entire day thanks to an ultra-low power design, offering a practical solution for people who suffer from human eye iris deficiencies like aniridia, high order aberrations like keratoconus, and light sensitivity or photophobia. The first performance assessment of the artificial iris is reported in Scientific Reports from Nature, demonstrating its potential to expand the visual sharpness, decrease optical aberrations and reduce the amount of light entering the eye in a dynamic manner. The prototype will be further developed into a medical device within the framework of the spin-off incubation initiative Azalea Vision, from imec and Ghent University.

The human iris controls the pupil size in response to light, hence regulating the amount of light that reaches the retina. Patients suffering from human eye iris deficiencies like aniridia, higher order aberrations like keratoconus, and light sensitivity or photophobia, which is highly prevalent in patients with chronic migraine, and Dry-Eye Syndrome (DES) could use this platform inside a contact lens. The prevalence for these groups adds up to more than 20 million patients. Current solutions such as contact lenses with a fixed iris, artificial iris implants or glasses with variable transparency, do not entirely mimic the normal functionality of the iris. For example, they do not affect the depth-of-focus, hence impeding a sharp vision. The artificial iris lens is capable of dynamically changing the pupil size, bringing back two levels of functionality of the eye, being light adaptation and expanded depth-of-focus.

Currently the Azalea Vision team is focused on validating this device with patients and volunteers under clinical investigations in order to provide a functional, robust and safe device for diverse eye disorders with light sensitivity and lack of visual sharpness. “By combining our expertise on miniaturized flexible electronics, low-power ASIC design and hybrid integration, we have demonstrated the capacity to develop a solution for people who suffer from iris deficiencies, higher order aberrations and photophobia, a common yet debilitating symptom seen in many neuro-ophthalmic disorders”, says researcher prof. Andrés Vásquez Quintero at imec/UGent. “Our smart contact lens can control the level of incoming light mimicking a human iris and offering a potential solution to vision correction – by expanding depth-of-field with automatic control of pupil size. This way, our approach can surpass current solutions to combat human eye iris deficiencies. Its beneficial optical effects will be further clinically validated and developed into a medical device.”

The artificial iris contact lens:  Left: photograph of the the smart contact...
The artificial iris contact lens: Left: photograph of the the smart contact lens solution; right: top level block diagram of full solution with a 4-ring LCD.
Source: imec

“It is imec’s aim to create added value for the society and bring our research to the market”, said Luc Van den hove, president and CEO of imec. “We are convinced that this artificial iris prototype has all the potential to become a game changer in ophthalmic treatment. Therefore, we have launched an incubation project together with imec.xpand to fully support the team’s ambition to mature and validate the technology and support their efforts to commercialize via a strong business case as a spin-off.”

“The Azalea Vision initiative adds to our longstanding track record of creating spin-off’s in the photonics and microsystems area”, said Rik Van de Walle, rector of Ghent University. “Many of these new companies target important medical problems and several more startup initiatives are in preparation.”

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related articles

Self-moisturising smart contact lenses

Self-moisturising smart contact lenses

Scientists have developed a contact lens that moisturizes the eye using tears in a reservoir behind the lower eyelid.

Hydrogel contact lenses for therapeutic use

Hydrogel contact lenses for therapeutic use

Researchers at the Terasaki Institute have developed prototypes of contact lenses that can assist with tear sampling for diagnostic purposes.

Cardiac patch treats heart disease

Cardiac patch treats heart disease

Researchers have developed rubbery a bioelectronic implantable device that can monitor and treat heart diseases.

Smart glasses provide fluoroscopic guidance during surgery

Smart glasses provide fluoroscopic guidance during surgery

Two surgeon tested a device that, when attached to everyday eyeglasses, can display fluoroscopic images used for surgical guidance directly to the surgeon.

Parylene photonics enable optical biointerfaces

Parylene photonics enable optical biointerfaces

Scientists have invented an optical platform that will likely become the new standard in optical biointerfaces.

Wearable could help surgeons assess blood loss

Wearable could help surgeons assess blood loss

Scientists have developed a wearable device that can accurately assess blood loss by measuring seismic vibrations in the chest cavity.

Smart contact lenses diagnose and treat diabetes

Smart contact lenses diagnose and treat diabetes

Researchers developed wirelessly driven ‘smart contact lens’ technology that can detect diabetes and further treat diabetic retinopathy just by wearing them.

Modern VR and AR device can help simulate sight loss

Modern VR and AR device can help simulate sight loss

Virtual/augmented reality devices can simulate some of the key difficulties experienced due to glaucoma, suggests new study from City, University of London.

Smart contact lens sensor for eye health monitoring

Smart contact lens sensor for eye health monitoring

Researchers have developed a "smart" contact lens that can show real-time changes in moisture and pressure by altering colors.

Popular articles