‘Smart’ Contact Lens Monitors Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a vision-threatening eye disease often caused by pressure from the buildup of fluid against the optic nerve. If you’re diagnosed with glaucoma, it’s important that the intraocular pressure in your eyes be monitored regularly to measure the disease’s progression and your treatment’s effectiveness.

Your ophthalmologist can measure your eye pressure in the office, but for some people, eye pressure may be higher at other times of the day, such as when they’re sleeping. These fluctuations in pressure may not give your doctor an overall picture of your eye health. This is where a first-of-its- kind “smart” contact lens may come in.

The Sensimed Triggerfish system, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in March 2016, includes a soft silicone contact lens equipped with sensors that continuously monitor eye pressure for up to 24 hours. You can wear it any time of day, including overnight.

While the device doesn’t actually measure eye pressure, it records increases in pressure. The lens sends wireless electronic signals to an antenna taped around your eye. A cable attached to the antenna transmits and stores the data to a portable recorder that you wear. When monitoring is done, the recorder sends the data to your doctor’s computer.

The most common side effects that patients experienced during clinical trials were red eyes, cornea irritation, and pressure marks from the contact lens. According to the manufacturer, the system will not be available for several months as the company studies how the data can best be used for individual patients in a clinical setting.