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Diabetic Smart Contact Lenses Developed by South Korean Research Team

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POHANG, South Korea, Jan. 15, 2020 — A research team from Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea (POSTECH) developed technology that allows diagnosis of diabetes and treatment of diabetic retinopathy by wearing smart light-emitting diode (LED) contact lenses.

Professor Sei Kwang Hahn and his research team, including his Ph.D. student, Geon-Hui Lee, invented a smart photonic contact lens and a wearable medical device that can diagnose diabetes and treat diabetic retinopathy. The device is said to work by analyzing the glucose concentration in tears via near-infrared light and delivering drugs to treat retinopathy.

Smart contact lenses can diagnose diabetes and treat diabetic retinopathy. Courtesy of POSTECH.
Smart contact lenses can diagnose diabetes and treat diabetic retinopathy. Courtesy of POSTECH.

Their new research results on photonic diagnosis and photonic therapy of diabetes were published Jan. 7 in collaboration with the research group led by Zhenan Bao from the Department of Chemical Engineering at Stanford University and David Myung from Stanford Medicine Ophthalmology.

The research team was able to place its smart LED contact lenses on rabbits with diabetic retinopathy disease and irradiated light repeatedly for a month. The research report shows there was significant reduction of angiogenesis in retina and verified clinical feasibility of the smart LED contact lens for the diabetic retinopathy therapy.

Along with the company PHI Biomed, a smart biomaterials manufacturer, the POSTECH team was also able to develop a Bluetooth system that allows patients to check their diabetic diagnosis results on their phones.

Hahn and his team say their research is gaining attention from the academic community. Preliminary clinical tests for the developers are expected to be done in the first half of 2020.

The research was published in Nature Reviews Materials (
Jan 2020
Research & TechnologySouth KoreaAsia-Pacificcontact lenseswearablesdiabetesretinopathyangiogenesismedicalPohang University of Science and TechnologyPostechLEDsBiophotonics

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