A chip that detects glaucoma

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ST Microelectronics has announced a product that may well turn out to be a small revolution in the world of eye care. Previously, establishing a successful diagnosis of glaucoma was rather difficult. But why?

Glaucoma is caused by excessive intra-ocular pressure, which damages the optic nerve and causes eventual blindness. Gauging the extent of the intra-ocular pressure is done by using a device called a tonometer. The measurement can be made during a visit to an ophthalmologist, but this generally occurs relatively early in the day. The problem is that the intra-ocular pressure is variable, and peaks at night time, when most ophthalmologists will have left work for the day.

With the advent of a new technology, those days could now be numbered. ST Microelectronics has showcased a new form of tonometer, in the guise of a contact lens. Embedded in the lens is a measuring device, and an antenna to transmit the gathered results by radio waves. The lens can be worn for extended durations, in order to detect and measure peak pressure on the intra-ocular nerves.

With this technology, the process of screening for glaucoma would become far more effective, and significantly reduce the number of people that go on to develop blindness, as they can be treated at an earlier stage than might otherwise have been possible due to lack of a diagnosis.

Source : ST Microelectronics