Glowing contact lenses hold out hope of preventing diabetes-linked eye diseases

For people with diabetes, eye diseases is one of the most dangerous effects to live with. Diabetic eye diseases like glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy can lead to severe vision loss or even blindness.

Colin Cook, a student at the California Institute of Technology, has developed what may be a less painful and invasive way to treat diabetes-related vision problems. He has developed glowing contact lenses.

Most diabetic eye issues are a result of the disease damaging blood vessels in the body, especially within the eye. The change in blood flow to the nerve cells lead to these cells dying in the retina. The disease continues to stem the blood flow and the person affected keeps losing their sight.

Cook has come up with a way to reduce the retina's oxygen demands. His lenses lower the metabolic demands on the retina by monitoring the eye's rod cells. Rod cells help humans see in low-light conditions. They use up more oxygen in dark spaces rather than outside in the sunlight.

Cook has designed the lenses to reduce what the retina needs for night-time functions by giving rod cells a very faint light to look at while the wearer is asleep.

Cook says the retinas get adequate light thanks to a strategic lens design.

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