Researchers are developing an implantable microfluid system which they claim can stabilise intraocular pressure in the human eye, a condition which can impair sight.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Microsysems and Modular Solid State Technologies EMFT are working on a way to treat diseases of the eye such as glaucoma and phthisis bulbi with an active implant that is intended to regulate eye pressure.
“This way, we can spare the patient from the strain of multiple follow-up procedures, and can preserve the ability to see over a longer timeframe and, in the best case scenario, completely prevent blindness,” said Christoph Jenke, project manager at EMFT.
The implant consists of a micro-pump system, a sensor-based pump control, an integrated battery for solid state energy supply as well as a telemetry module for data transmission. It can be attached directly to the eyeball.
The Munich-based researchers developed a biocompatible silicon micro-membrane pump, measuring 7x7x1 cubic mm, with a production rate of 30 microlitres per second.
Depending on the disease, it can moisturize the eye or drain intraocular fluid.
Fraunhofer experts use the eye’s natural drainage pathways so that no scar tissue forms. Monitoring at regular intervals, based on a conventional eye pressure measurement ,the attending physician can set the volume of fluid to the desired level on an outpatient basis.
There are also plans call to combine the system with an implantable sensor, so that fluids can be regulated automatically.
“Our implant imitates a healthy eye’s natural production of cameral fluid. Since the absence of vitreous humor production is the exclusive cause of the disease in phthisis, we are optimistic that we can stop the disease progression and be able to preserve the eyesight sustainably,” said Jenke.
The team is building a demonstration system which will be used for reliability and lifecycle testing.
The work, which also includes Geuder AG, is being carried out as part of the Microaug project, under the KMU Innovativ Program sponsored by the German ministry for education and research.