Glaucoma Drainage Device Uses Magnetic Fields for Self-Cleaning

By | November 11, 2018

Researchers at Purdue University have designed a prototype glaucoma drainage device that can clean itself under the influence of external magnetic waves. The innovation could lead to ocular drainage implants that last significantly longer than current models.

The CDC has reported that approximately three million Americans are living with glaucoma. At present, clinicians prescribe medications, or advise that patients undergo surgical implantation of a drainage device to relieve the pressure build-up in the eye and restore sight. However, these approaches offer varying degrees of success.

One of the problems is that implantable drainage devices have a limited lifespan, as they become blocked and ineffective through a buildup of microorganisms, which is known as biofouling. Only 50% of the devices are still functional after five years.

“We created a new drainage device that combats this problem of buildup by using advances in microtechnology,” said Hyowon “Hugh” Lee, a researcher involved in the study. “It is able to clear itself of harmful bio-buildup. This is a giant leap toward personalized medicine.”

The new drainage device contains micro-actuators that vibrate when influenced by magnetic fields. Each actuator consists of an anchor and a nickel magnet. The device can clear itself of microbial biofouling when the vibrating actuators scrape the walls of the drain and break the blockage apart. Because the magnetic fields can be applied externally, the cleaning technique is minimally invasive.

“We can introduce the magnetic field from outside the body at any time to essentially give the device a refresh,” said Lee. “Our on-demand technology allows for a more reliable, safe and effective implant for treating glaucoma.”

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The drainage device can also allow for varying flow resistance, which means that it can provide customized treatment for each glaucoma patient. Glaucoma varies depending on the stage of the disease, and patients may have different requirements in terms of pressure build-up in the eye and the optimal drainage parameters to alleviate it. So far, the researchers have tested their prototype device in the lab and are now working to patent and license it.

Study in Microsystems and Nanoengineering: Towards smart self-clearing glaucoma drainage device…

Via: Purdue University…