Groundbreaking lens helps abate 'thief of sight' tackling Glaucoma misery

Glaucoma is feared to affect half a million Britons, although more than half of all cases remain undiagnosed.

The Triggerfish contact lens is a new wearable technology that helps experts diagnose the cause of glaucoma earlier, potentially leading to better treatments and saving the sight of patients.The soft silicone lens contains a gold microprocessor, which is an electronic circuit that monitors fluctuations in pressure within the eye. Traditionally eye pressure is checked using an air puff test at the opticians but air puff tests capture just a split second of information. Eye pressure varies through the day so some patients may have a normal pressure on air puff but higher pressure at other times.

The Triggerfish contact lens monitors changes in the eye over an entire 24-hour period.The data can be downloaded from the lens enabling specialists to obtain a fuller picture of the eye’s health. Raised eye pressure is the leading cause of glaucoma so this sophisticated lens, which is handmade in Switzerland, is a ground breaking new device to help glaucoma specialists decide on the best treatment.

Commenting on the technology, ophthalmic surgeon and glaucoma specialist, Dr Andrew Tatham said: “Glaucoma is known as the “silent thief of sight” as it causes a gradual loss of vision, which is often undetected. As vision loss is usually slow and affects the peripheral vision first patients can lose more than half their vision and still not notice they are affected. Unfortunately once loss of vision has occurred it can’t be reversed but with the best tailored treatments we can halt the effects and prevent further damage. The earlier we can identify and treat this condition, the better chance we have of saving people’s sight."

Dr Andrew Tatham continued: “Glaucoma is caused when the eye’s natural drainage channels become blocked, fluid inside the eye is unable to drain, and the pressure inside the eye rises. Eye pressure fluctuates through the day, so depending on what the individual is doing and when the reading is taken, a single reading can be very misleading. The Triggerfish contact lens is the first device that is able to give us information about changes in the eye over 24 hours. Instead of a single frame we are able to see the full picture. Glaucoma is more common with age but can affect anyone so it is important to have regular eye examinations, especially if you are aged over 40.”

The Triggerfish, which is priced at £400, is available from The Edinburgh Clinic, part of Aspen Healthcare. Worn by the patient for twenty-four hours, Triggerfish allows the wearer to carry on with normal activities during that time. It can be used to detect causes of glaucoma and help specialists decide on the best treatment.

Dr Andrew Tatham concludes: “Glaucoma can affect anyone but certain people are more susceptible such as those with long or short-sightedness or those with a family member with the disease. It’s important that people with these conditions are especially aware of the dangers and take advantage of the technological developments available to them.”