Skip to content

A bioengineer’s dry eyes prompted effort to improve contact lenses

After long hours of studying as a graduate student, Saad Bhamla's eyes hurt. Contacts and intense visual focus just didn't go together.

He resolved to make contacts more comfortable and now, as a postdoctoral scholar in bioengineering with a PhD in chemical engineering, he's taken a step to do just that. As reported in a Stanford News release:

Bhamla and [chemical engineer Gerald Fuller, PhD,] suspected that most of the discomfort arises from the break up of the tear film, a wet coating on the surface of the eye, during a process called dewetting. [In a study,] they found that the lipid layer, an oily coating on the surface of the tear film, protects the eye's surface in two important ways – through strength and liquid retention. By mimicking the lipid layer in contact construction, millions of people could avoid ocular discomfort.

The engineers and their team then designed a device that mimics the surface of the eye, which they can use to test contact lenses:

The machine, called the Interfacial Dewetting and Drainage Optical Platform, or i-DDrOP, reproduces a tear film on the surface of a contact lens. It allows both scientists and manufacturers to systematically handle the unique array of variables that affect the tear film, including temperature, a variety of substances, humidity and the way gravity acts along a curved surface.

With the ability to accurately recreate a tear film on the contact lens surface and test how quickly it breaks up, manufacturers are now armed with the tools to make a more comfortable lens that protects users from the painful side effects of wearing contacts. Even Bhamla may trade in his glasses for a new pair of lipid-protected eyewear.

Their study appears in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.

Previously: Developing contact lenses to deliver anesthesia, New retinal implant could restore sight and To maintain good eyesight, make healthy vision a priority
Image by suanie

Popular posts

Biomedical research
Looking for love in all the wrong hormones

Researchers have found that oxytocin, commonly known as the "love hormone" may not be crucial for the social behaviors it's known for.