New sensor examines tears for signs of eye damage

September 5, 2018

According to the researchers, this new rapid-sensing device can detect a key marker of eye injury in minutes, which is crucial for eye trauma.

Eye injuries are pretty common and their treatment, if not done in time, can cause grave injuries and situations like blindness in some cases. However, a team of researchers from the University of Illinois has developed a gel laden with gold nanoparticles to examine the signs of eye damage.

The nanoparticle changes colour when it reacts with a teardrop containing ascorbic acid, released from a wound to the eye.

In this study, published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics, the researchers used the sensor, called OjoGel, to measure ascorbic acid levels in artificial tears and in clinical samples of fluid from patients’ eyes.

Study leader, Dipanjan Pan, a University of Illinois professor of bioengineering and the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, said that they are expecting a significant potential impact of the biosensor for evaluating the eye in post-surgical patients as well as trauma patients.

Dr. Pan’s group, with Dr. Leanne Labriola, an ophthalmologist at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, have developed this OjoGel which can turn out be a boon for patients with eye injuries.

According to Dr Leanne, OjoGel technology will allow for faster identification of serious eye injuries and with a rapid point-of-care device such as the one they’ve created, anyone in an emergency department would be able to perform the test and know within minutes if the patient would need an urgent surgery to save vision.

The group found that the concentration of ascorbic acid in tears can be a good indicator of determining the extent of eye injury. Ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C, is found in high concentrations in the fluid inside the eye, called aqueous humor, but is very low in concentration in the tears.

“Deep damage to the cornea from trauma or incisional surgery releases aqueous humor into the tear film, which increases the concentration of ascorbic acid in tears to a measurably higher level than that found in normal eyes,” reportedly said Pan.

The researchers did extensive testing to determine the concentrations associated with each degree of colour change. They have developed a colour key and guidelines for using a mobile phone app, Pixel Picker, to precisely measure the concentration indicated by a reacted gel sample.

The researchers are planning to continue working on the OjoGel technology and are hoping to provide a low-cost, easy-to-use clinical device. They are also planning to perform clinical studies to determine whether OjoGel readings are reliable in evaluating eye damage.


Category: Education, Features

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