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Purdue Develops Sensors To Monitor Health Using Contact Lenses

Thin circuitry in a soft contact lens

The new technology relies on ultra-thin sensors, which can sit on top of soft, hydrogel-based lenses. (Photo: Purdue University)

Hoosiers may soon have a new way to monitor their health: contact lenses.

A team of scientists from Purdue University is developing technology that would give soft contact lenses the ability to monitor body temperature, glucose levels and other health factors.

Chi Hwan Lee is an assistant professor of biochemical and mechanical engineering at Purdue, and the lead scientist on the project. He says previously, similar technology had been developed for hard, plastic contact lenses, but those lenses couldn’t be worn for extended periods.

Lee says the new technology relies on ultra-thin sensors, which can sit on top of soft lenses that accommodate longer wear.

“We want to use the commercially-available, hydrogel-based soft contact lens as a soft tray for functional sensors,” Lee says.

Lee says the sensor can monitor the cornea to detect abnormalities in temperature and glucose levels. And he says they’re working on additional technology that could allow the lens to provide relief for chronic dry eyes.

Lee says before it can be made available for human use, it must be tested on animals.

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