Glaucoma is the number one cause of blindness in the world. It’s estimated that approximately 3 million people in the U.S. have glaucoma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, GA.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease that damages the eye’s optic nerve; which results in response to fluid that builds up in the front of the eye.

There is no cure for the debilitating disease; medication and surgical implants are used to relieve the pressure that builds up in the eyes. The old procedure results in varying degrees of success in improving vision. But, recently, scientists from Perdue University have discovered a new treatment that may help save the eye sight of a person with glaucoma’s. There is still no cure available; but, if the condition is diagnosed early enough, severe blindness can be prevented.

The New Glaucoma Treatment

The new treatment for glaucoma is an innovative drainage device. Researchers at Purdue University came up with the idea for the new technology. The information on the device has been published in a recent edition of Microsystems and Nanoengineering.

Glaucoma drainage devices can be implanted, and although the old system has been available for approximately 5 years, now, there’s a serious fluke in the design. It seems that microorganisms commonly accumulate during, and after the implantation procedure, which could lead to serious infections.
According to lead researcher, Hugh Lee, an assistant professor in Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and a researcher at the Birck Nanotechnology Center, “We created a new drainage device that combats this problem of buildup by using advances in microtechnology. It is able to clear itself of harmful bio-buildup. This is a giant leap toward personalized medicine.”

Interestingly, the technology in the Perdue glaucoma drainage device that prevents microorganism build up, does so by creating a vibration that simply shakes loose the biomaterials (germs) that build up. In addition, the device can be adjusted to various flow resistance levels. This allows for optimal draining and at the same time, allows medical professionals to customize the treatment for varying levels of severity of glaucoma (aka pressure build up in the eyes).

“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,” added Lee.

Purdue’s 150th Anniversary

The groundbreaking achievement on the part of the research team, is in line with Purdue’s 150th anniversary, in which the university has launched its “Giant Leaps Celebration,” global advancement program. The theme was created to showcase Purdue University as an intellectual center and a leader in solving real-world problems.

The new glaucoma technology will be patented at the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization; the university plans to license it. The school is looking for partners who may be interested in licensing the technology.

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