Wireless technology may have just made its way into the eyes of glaucoma patients. With glaucoma still a prominent visual disease today, advancement in any technology is welcomed. According to the Glaucoma Foundation it is estimated that over 2.2 million people are challenged by glaucoma and only about half have been diagnosed. In addition, approximately 1 in 10,000 babies are born with this disease. One of the newest additions to the fight against glaucoma is a pressure gauge optical implant. This device may prevent blindness, a result from this disease that the world Health Organization (WHO) has cited as the second leading cause of blindness in the world.
Pressure – Glaucoma is currently incurable. It is the result of optical fluid not being able to sufficiently drain and in turn builds up pressure that can damage the optic nerve. The National Eye Institute explains this process, “In open-angle glaucoma, even though the drainage angle is “open”, the fluid passes too slowly through the meshwork drain. Since the fluid builds up, the internal optic pressure [IOP] inside the eye rises to a level that may damage the optic nerve. When the optic nerve is damaged from increased pressure, open-angle glaucoma-and vision loss—may result. That’s why controlling pressure inside the eye is important.” Once the optic nerve is damaged vision loss and possibly blindness can ensue. The most dangerous aspect of this happening is that the person afflicted may not even know it, until it’s too late.
Stopping Pressure in Its Tracks – By implanting a miniature pressure gauge device, glaucoma sufferers could have their pressure readings easily checked. Some designs work with a smartphone camera while others wirelessly send information to their doctor as well as the patient themselves. The wireless device allows the doctor to receive the pressure readouts sent directly into a specifically designed database complete with individualized warnings according to each patient’s specific glaucoma challenge. The patient receives their pressure readings via a downloaded app that converts the information into easily decipherable layman’s terms. This type of technology creates an immediate response and repair protocol that reduces eye pressure. By such swift capability doctor’s visits are reduced and vision longevity could be restored to an aging population where it was never able before.
Coming Soon – The new technology is being tested and designed by a variety of researchers in the field. Each design works along the same lines, focusing on the dangers of undetectable increased optical pressure. There is the German company, Implandata Opthalmic Products GmbH which announced the advancement of their Pro-IOP eye measurement system. Another, designed by Stanford University’s Prof. Stephen Quake, and ophthalmologist Yossi Mandel of Bar-Ilan University in Israel is being further tested and ultimately released. The technology is expected to enter the market sometime in 2015 or 2016 which makes it a palpable tool that would otherwise require many years before being implemented into the general population.
The Working Parts – As mentioned, each design varies regarding the implantation for each. This depends on the individual and their doctor’s advice. Some describe it as being akin to a Lasik surgery procedure while others are “designed to go inside a standard intraocular lens prosthetic, which many glaucoma patients end up getting as a result of cataract surgery.” (GizMag). The results from preliminary testing looks good with Stanford News reporting that, “…in one previous study, researchers found that 24-hour IOP monitoring resulted in a change in treatment in up to 80 percent of patients.” In addition, the implant has been shown to have little to no distortion when evaluated by the U.S. Air Force vision test.
Glaucoma optical implant technology is a continued cutting edge advancement in keeping yet another incurable disease at bay. It is an exciting breakthrough that proves the digital world isn’t so bad after all, that is until they decide to start scrolling advertising across the lens but let’s hope that doesn’t happen.Sources: http://www.glaucoma.org/glaucoma/glaucoma-facts-and-stats.php http://www.gizmag.com/glaucoma-iop-eye-implant/33562/ http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/glaucoma/glaucoma_facts.asp http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/august/eye-implant-glaucoma-082514.html http://www.ntd.tv/en/news/life/20140804/183959-optical-implant-could-revolutionize-glaucoma-management.html
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