Glaucoma is a condition that damages the eye’s optic nerve and can cause vision loss and blindness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 3 million Americans are living with glaucoma. If there is early intervention, vision can be saved. Currently, glaucoma can only be treated with medications or surgical implants.
Implantable glaucoma drainage devices have had a rise in popularity over the last few years, according to the researchers. However, half of the devices are still operational after five years because of the accumulation of microorganisms on the device during and after implantation, also known as biofouling.
“We created a new drainage device that combats this problem of buildup by using advances in microtechnology,” Hyowon Lee, an assistant professor in Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and lead researcher, said in a press release. “It is able to clear itself of harmful bio-buildup. This is a giant leap toward personalized medicine.”
The device is built with micro actuators that vibrate in the presence of a magnetic field. Those vibrations cause the biomaterials that have built up in the tube to be shaken loose.
“We can introduce the magnetic field from outside the body at any time to essentially give the device a refresh,” Lee said. “Our on-demand technology allows for a more reliable, sage and effective implant for treating glaucoma.”
The research was published in the journal Microsystems and Nanoengineering. The researchers are currently working with the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization to patent the technology and are looking for partners to license it.