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Diabetic Retinopathy

In the Future, Smart Contact Lenses May Change Diabetics’ Lives

Having diabetes is a life-altering experience. A person with diabetes must vigilantly track and monitor their blood glucose levels. From carefully planning meals and when to exercise to glucose testing and timing medications, managing diabetes can be complicated and time-consuming.

Fortunately, innovators in the healthcare field are always driving technologies forward to make life simpler for those who need it most. One of the most intriguing recent examples is the development of smart contact lenses that can help in the diagnosis, management and treatment of diabetes and diabetes-related glaucoma.

The Smart Contact Lens: Promising Findings

A number of smart contact lenses have been in the R & D stage in recent years, but one of the most promising of these devices was created by a research team at South Korea’s Pohang University of Science and Technology, and announced on April 28, 2020. According to the researchers, the lens has the potential to diagnose, monitor and treat diabetes by using electrical signals to manage the administering of medicine to the user.

In an article published in the January 2018 edition of Science Advances, the team showed that, when tested on animal subjects, the lenses accurately measured blood glucose levels by analyzing rabbits’ tears.

As conceived for humans, the technology would use microchips embedded in a biocompatible polymer contact lens to determine a person’s blood glucose levels by analyzing the blood vessels at the back of their eyelids. If those levels were to drop below a certain safe measurement, the device would issue a warning.

Though this technology is still in the research and development stage, it and many other innovations could one day change the lives of individuals with diabetes.

At Eye Mechanix, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 773-857-1260 or book an appointment online to see one of our Lincoln Park eye doctors.

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Ref: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.aap9841

Q&A

How can diabetes affect my vision?

Extended periods of elevated blood sugar caused by diabetes can damage the blood vessels inside the eye, causing them to leak. This bleeding results in damage to the retina and a condition known as diabetic retinopathy. Symptoms include:

  • Double vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Floating spots
  • Vision loss

Diabetes can also cause swelling in the part of the eye responsible for fine detail and close-up work, known as the macula. This swelling is known as macular edema, and it can result in significant vision loss or even total blindness.

Are smart contact lenses for diabetics available to buy?

Although findings have been promising, smart contact lenses for the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of diabetes and related glaucoma are still in the research and development stage.

6 Ways To Maintain Eye Health If You’re Over 50

Aging and certain lifestyle choices can affect your vision, especially if you’re in your 50’s and up. While it’s normal for your eyes and vision to change, there are certain actions you can take to protect your sight.

6 Tips for 50+ Eye Health

  1. Eat Well

    A well-balanced diet helps maintain a healthy body including healthy eyes, and reduces your odds of developing some very serious eye diseases. Nutrients and nutritious foods, which help prevent vision loss include:

    • Vitamin A: Carrots, spinach, kale, egg yolks, dairy products
    • Vitamin C: Citrus fruits and juices, broccoli, potatoes, green peppers
    • Vitamin E: Whole grains, eggs, sunflower seeds, vegetable oils
    • Fatty Acids: Coldwater fish, such as mackerel, rainbow trout and salmon; corn oil, sunflower oil
    • Lutein: Kale, spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts, corn
    • Zinc: Poultry, meat, fish, dairy products, whole grains
  1. Quit Smoking

Smoking can significantly increase the chances of developing age-related macular degeneration and cataracts, as well as diabetic retinopathy in diabetics. So if you’re a smoker, the sooner you quit, the better.

  1. Exercise

Exercising for at least 20 minutes a day is great for your whole body, including your eyes, by increasing blood flow to the optic nerve and retina! It isn’t necessary to engage in strenuous exercise—in fact, a brisk walk will suffice.

  1. Protect Your Eyes

Sunglasses

Protecting your eyes from ultraviolet rays with UV-blocking sunglasses can slow down the development of cataracts, prevent sun damage to your retina, and lower the risk of skin cancer near your eyes.

Protective eyewear

Another way to protect your eyes is to wear protective eyewear. If you play sports or work with materials such as wood, glass or metal, protective eyewear can shield your eyes from splinters and shards, as well as fast-moving objects like balls and hockey pucks.

  1. Give Your Eyes a Rest

If you spend a lot of time reading, driving or looking at digital devices, you may develop eye strain and eye fatigue. By implementing the 20-20-20 rule, especially during prolonged computer or smartphone use, you can give your eyes some much-needed rest. All you need to do is this: every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

  1. Have Regular Eye Exams

And finally, a comprehensive eye exam is crucial, as it can detect eye conditions that don’t display any symptoms until vision loss has already occurred.

These conditions include:

    • Age-Related Macular Degeneration
    • Cataracts
    • Glaucoma
    • Diabetic Retinopathy

When detected early, treatment can often prevent permanent vision loss or even blindness. Less serious and more common, presbyopia or age-related farsightedness, develops with age, and simply updating your prescription for glasses or contact lenses at your routine eye checkup can keep you enjoying the arm’s-length activities you love.

Age-related vision changes can be challenging, both emotionally and physically. However, some of these can be mitigated by implementing the tips above. Schedule an eye exam with Eye Mechanix in Lincoln Park to check your eye health today!

Q&A

How does aging affect your eyes?

Aging causes changes in every part of your body, including your eyes. As you age, the lens inside your eye begins to harden, which leads to presbyopia (age-related farsightedness). This makes it more difficult for your eyes to focus on near objects and tasks like reading. Other common age-related eye problems include:

  • Age-Related Macular Degeneration
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Dry Eyes
  • Floaters
  • Changes to Peripheral Vision

Can I do anything about my chances of vision loss?

It is estimated that half of all visual impairment and blindness can be prevented through early diagnosis and treatment. So make sure you get regular eye exams to ensure that all is in check.