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Magnetic Device Could Help Save Glaucoma Patients’ Sight

It’s a ‘giant leap toward personalized medicine.’

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Magnetic Device Could Help Save Glaucoma Patients’ Sight

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN – Purdue University researchers have invented a new smart drainage device to help patients with glaucoma as they try to save their eyesight.

Glaucoma can be treated only with medications or surgical implants, both of which offer varying degrees of success in helping to improve sight and to relieve pressure buildup inside the eye. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 3 million Americans have glaucoma.
Implantable glaucoma drainage devices have grown in popularity over the past years, but only half of the devices are still operational after five years because microorganisms accumulate on the device during and after implantation, according to a Purdue press release. This problem is known as biofouling.

“We created a new drainage device that combats this problem of buildup by using advances in microtechnology,” said Hyowon “Hugh” Lee, an assistant professor in Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and a researcher at the Birck Nanotechnology Center, who led the research team. “It is able to clear itself of harmful bio-buildup. This is a giant leap toward personalized medicine.”

The Purdue glaucoma drainage device is built with microactuators that vibrate when a magnetic field is introduced. The vibrations shake loose the biomaterials that have built up in the tube.

“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, safe and effective implant for treating glaucoma.”

The Purdue technology is published in the latest issue of Microsystems and Nanoengineering.

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