• By Anni Griswold
    Purdue University, Microsystems and Nanoengineering

    Researchers have unveiled a new glaucoma drainage device that uses magnetic technology to remove the microbial sludge that accumulates over time, eliminating the need for surgery to remove or clean the tube. They described the novel implant in the November 5 issue of Microsystems and Nanoengineering.

    Although glaucoma drainage tubes can help regulate IOP in patients with drug-refractory glaucoma, nearly a third of the devices clog and fail within 5 years of implantation. Researchers at Purdue University sidestepped this problem by filling the device’s drainage tube with microactuators that vibrate when a magnetic field is introduced. The vibrations shake loose any bacteria or cellular debris that have clung to the tube.

    “We can introduce the magnetic field from outside the body at any time to essentially give the device a refresh,” said lead investigator Hyowon “Hugh” Lee, an assistant professor in Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and a researcher at the Birck Nanotechnology Center. “Our on-demand technology allows for a more reliable, safe and effective implant for treating glaucoma.”

    Aside from its self-cleaning abilities, the device can also adjust flow resistance according to the degree of pressure buildup inside the eye. This could allow personalized treatment for patients with varying stages of glaucoma.

    “This is a giant leap toward personalized medicine,” Lee said. The team is patenting the technology and searching for partners to license it.