Contact lens developed to detect bacteria and fungus

Bradford Uni has worked on a smart CL that non-invasively tests for infections

Researchers at the University of Bradford have developed a smart contact lens that could quickly and non-invasively test for eye infections.

Stephen Rimmer, professor of chemistry at the University of Bradford, said the smart hydrogel lens could detect two types of bacteria and fungus.

‘This device is made from materials that are similar to those used to make contact lenses, which would be safely applied to the eye. The microorganisms get stuck to the material and can then be analysed,’ professor Rimmer said.

Current tests required a sample of the patient’s eye to be taken under anaesthetic and then the sample must be cultured for up to two days before it was studied under a microscope. Professor Rimmer’s test involved the patient wearing a contact lens for an hour and results were provided soon after.

‘The current method is not a nice procedure and it takes time. We are working on how we can produce a visible colour change on the lens to show which bacteria or fungus is present. This could then be photographed with a mobile phone and uploaded to a website for an expert to analyse. The expert could then determine whether the patient needs antibiotics or if they require further investigation. Our goal is that someone on the street could do it with no training at all,’ professor Rimmer added.

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