It is possible that deaths caused by fungal eye infections could be prevented in developing nations if the innovative “smart contact lens” were worn more frequently.
The process of determining which type of bacteria or fungus is responsible for an eye infection is currently one that is both excruciating and time consuming. In the new diagnostic procedure, the patient would have to put on the specialized lens for an hour before the findings of the test could be retrieved.
By lowering the amount of unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics, this will also assist in lowering the rate of antibiotic resistance.
This Smart Contact Lens Could Help Detect Eye Infections Quickly and Painlessly
At this very moment, a cutting-edge “smart contact lens” is being developed that can detect eye infections swiftly and without causing any discomfort.
It is currently unclear whether or not the test will be publicly accessible, despite the fact that it has been referred to as a “possible game-changer” in the fight against avoidable blindness around the world. It might even prevent deaths from fungal infections of the eye, which are a leading cause of death in less developed countries.
The lens was produced by a collaborative effort between researchers from the L V Prasad Eye Institute in India, the University of Sheffield, and the University of Bradford.
A scrape of the eye is performed on a patient while they are asleep so that the doctor may determine what kind of bacteria or fungus is causing the patient’s eye ailment. This method involves a great deal of bodily intrusion.
After a period of two days, the material is observed under a microscope in order to determine its growth.
The patient would be given the one-of-a-kind lens to wear for the duration of the test, which would last for one hour, and the findings would be available straight away. It is envisaged that one day, the test would be available to everybody in the United Kingdom and anyone else in the world.
According to Dr. Joey Shepherd, Senior Lecturer in Microbiology at the School of Clinical Dentistry at the University of Sheffield, “This is important work that could save the sight of many people around the world by quickly and accurately diagnosing the infection in a way that is much more comfortable than what is done now.”
“Incorrect usage of antibiotics will decrease as a result of this as well. Because of this, we will be contributing to the effort to curb the development of antibiotic resistance in microorganisms, which occurs when antibiotics are administered without first determining the underlying cause of the infection.”
The preliminary research carried out in the laboratory has produced encouraging results, and once additional funding has been secured, tests will be carried out on actual people.
This test has the potential to save lives in tropical and developing nations where eye infections are frequently not discovered until it is too late to treat them.
“New Smart Hydrogel” Can Distinguish Between Different Types of Bacteria and Fungus
Stephen Rimmer, who teaches chemistry at the University of Bradford, made the following statement: “We have developed a smart hydrogel that is capable of distinguishing between two distinct types of bacteria as well as fungus. Because this apparatus is constructed out of the same kinds of materials that are used to make contact lenses, it is perfectly safe to put on the eye and wear. Because the germs are able to adhere to the substance, it is now possible to investigate them.”
Additionally, he said, “The current state of affairs is not ideal, and finding a solution will take some time. We are attempting to determine how to alter the color of the lens so that we can identify the specific type of microorganism that is present.
After that, a trained expert could examine a picture of it that was taken with a mobile phone and then upload it to a website. The specialist would then be able to decide whether the individual requires antibiotics or whether they require additional information. Our goal is to make it so that anyone off the street can do it without needing any training at all.”
According to a report that was published by the World Health Organization a month ago, invasive fungal diseases are on the rise around the world, particularly among people who already have health problems or whose immune systems aren’t as strong as others’.
There was also evidence that as a result of climate change, fungal diseases are becoming more widespread and are able to spread to a greater number of locations around the world.
Covid19 May Be Linked to Increased Risk of Fungal Diseases
Additionally, there was a correlation between the Covid-19 pandemic and an increase in the prevalence of fungal diseases such as aspergillosis, mucormycosis, and candidaemia.
Mucormycosis, which is also known as the “black fungus,” has been a significant contributor to the number of deaths that have occurred in India.
People who have diabetes and those who have undergone treatment with Covid-19 and steroids are at an increased risk.
According to the findings of studies, more than half of these patients end up passing away. It is believed by professionals in the medical field that the steroid treatment lowers the patient’s immune system and raises the patient’s blood sugar, both of which are favorable conditions for the fungus.
According to Dr. Prashant Garg, Executive Chair of the L V Prasad Eye Institute, eye infections, which are also referred to as microbial keratitis, are the most common cause of blindness in the entire world.
When a person receives a prompt and accurate diagnosis, it is possible that they will be able to begin treatment with the appropriate medications right away. This may assist in preventing vision loss that is caused by these diseases.
The most common method of diagnosis involves causing the patient discomfort, eating up a lot of time, and breaking the bank. It is possible that the next step in the battle against preventable blindness and the treatment of eye infections will be the creation of technology known as “smart contact lenses.”
Organizations Contributing Financial Support to Grow MedTech
Some of the organizations that have contributed financial support to the project include the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Ministry of Defense, Innovate UK, Grow MedTech, and Smith & Nephew.
The subsequent task is to create a prototype of the second generation that does not call for any specialized equipment. In addition, researchers are utilizing the device as an innovative means of transporting samples to laboratories for the purpose of sequencing the DNA of bacteria.