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Tech

Colour-changing sensor can detect signs of eye damage

03/10/2018
A new point-of-care colour-changing sensor that can rapidly detect a key indicator of eye trauma could soon improve outcomes for patients.

Researchers from the University of Illinois (UI) have created a biosensor device called OjoGel, which is made of a gel laden with gold nanoparticles that changes colour when it comes into contact with tears containing ascorbic acid.

The group had previously identified ascorbic acid concentration in tears as a good measure for determining the extent of injury, as while it’s found in high concentrations in the aqueous humor, it normally has very low concentration in tears.

The team collaborated with Carle Foundation Hospital ophthalmologist Dr Leanne Labriola develop the device, who said the technology could allow for faster identification of serious eye injuries.


"With a rapid point-of-care device such as this, anyone in an emergency department could perform a test and know within minutes if the patient needs urgent surgery to save their vision."
Leanne Labriola, Ophthalmologist at Carle Foundation Hospital

“With a rapid point-of-care device such as this, anyone in an emergency department could perform a test and know within minutes if the patient needs urgent surgery to save their vision,” Labriola said.

According to a study published recently in Biosensors and Bioelectronics, the device successfully measured ascorbic acid levels in artificial tears and clinical samples of fluid from patients’ eyes.

“We expect a significant potential impact of this biosensor for evaluating the eye in post-surgical patients as well as trauma patients,” Professor Dipanjan Pan from UI’s College of Medicine said.

“OjoGel offers a unique biosensing technique that provides an effective and simple method for testing ascorbic acid in a point-of-care delivery system.”

The extent of the colour change correlates to the concentration of ascorbic acid in the tear sample, shifting from pale yellow to a dark reddish-brown as the concentration increases. The researchers did extensive testing to determine the concentrations associated with each degree of colour change.

Further efforts are being made to refine the technology, in the hope of producing a low-cost and convenient clinical device. Clinical studies are also being planned to confirm whether OjoGel readings reliably evaluate eye damage.

Researchers developed a rapid-sensing gel to measure a molecular marker of eye injury in a teardrop. Image top (from left): Carle opthamologist Dr. Leanne Labriola, Illinois visiting scholar Ketan Dighe and professor Dipanjan Pan. Courtesy: L. Brian Stauffer



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