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Contact Lens Keeps an Eye on Your Health

NSF Award:

CAREER: Self-Assembly of Functional Systems Within Live Cells  (University of Washington)

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Body fluids such as blood, sweat and saliva contain indicators of the body's overall health. However, obtaining samples can be invasive and, in the case of blood, require continuous draws from the body. In contrast, the eye's tear ducts constantly produce fluid that can contain viable information regarding the overall health of the eye and, potentially, the body.

To monitor tear fluid, researchers at the University of Washington have designed and built the first contact lens with an integrated lactate sensor. Levels of analytes such as lactate or glucose, both present in tear fluid, may indicate similar concentrations found within the blood. Lactate levels, for example, may be used to evaluate the health of the heart, liver or kidneys.

The creation of a biosensing contact lens provides a fundamentally new body monitoring capability and a new tool for health care management. By integrating tiny metal electrodes onto a flexible polymer substrate, the researchers created a sensor that not only fits comfortably on the eye, but also transmits information wirelessly for continuous health monitoring. The flexible microsensor can determine the composition of body fluids from the surface of the eye, providing new sensing data that health care professionals can monitor without discomfort to the patient.


  • contact lens with embedded lactate sensor
Contact lens with embedded lactate sensor.
Babak Parviz, University of Washington

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