Anton Lucanus
Anton Lucanus

Israeli team bend nanotechnology to repair damaged eye tissue

If you have problems with your eyesight, there’s a chance that you have a pair of prescription glasses lying around. As you know, it can be a hassle to optimize your eyewear for such a stylish accessory that deflects ultraviolet rays. Sometimes the lenses that you hope to have – whether polarizing or not – might not be suitable for the frame, or the frame might cause headaches due to it not being properly balanced. But hassle or not, prescription sunglasses are a necessity for those who wear glasses because it helps protect the eyes from further damage. In fact, there’s studies suggesting that it’s more essential than your prescription glasses because it offers more protection. However, a revolution is coming and it’s about to change the entire scope of the eyewear industry.

An Israeli team at Sha’are Zedek Medical Center and Bar-Ilan University’s Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials have bended nanotechnology to the long-predicted and hoped-for results of being able to repair damaged tissue, starting with the eyes. These eye drops will completely eliminate the need for prescription sunglasses by correcting the eye’s shortcomings. 

Field tests on pigs have been carried out, with positive results. Myopia or short-sightedness, and long-sightedness have decreased in pigs that have been administered with the new nano-drops solution, without the need for further modification. Both eye problems employ the same nano-particles as the other. 

In other news, human trials have begun, and while its efficiency on astigmatism has not been proven or tested, the scientists remain hopeful and are looking forward to how this technology might revolutionize ophthalmological and optometry treatment. 

Making eyewear obsolete might not be their endgame, but it will invariably affect the industry when 4 billion people no longer require the services that their glasses offer when they can easily fix their eye without the need of undergoing expensive laser treatment, but rather, a few nano-drops that is virtually painless, risk-free, and affordable. They are trying to place this new technology somewhere “between glasses and contacts” because they want it to be accessible and not something that will completely eradicate the glasses industry. Perhaps there will be those who much prefer their glasses because it can serve as a fashion accessory, or simply because they don’t like the idea of modifying their eyesight with technology.

The technology, which was introduced by Dr. David Smadja in early 2018, was taken to new heights in 2019 when over 1 million was raised to fund this nanotech project. He decided that it was time that technology was challenged when he found himself experiencing headaches and migraines caused by his long hours in front of the computer – and yes he is bespectacled. He was not a viable candidate for laser treatment, and neither was he excited about the prospect of wearing contacts. His only option was to continue wearing the glasses which has plagued him through his entire adult life. Dissatisfied with the current solutions offered to all that is ailed by failing eyesight, he sought to make a change on a molecular level and has very much succeeded. 

At the present moment, the nano-drops technology is still being tested as there’s some debate over whether the corrective effects are long term, or if they user will have to continue applying the nano-drops over the course of their life, or if over time, their vision will heal permanently. These questions can only be answered through further testing, which has been put on a backburner due to the current state of the world, however, the company is confident that they will be moving forward and making progress. Perhaps, by the time Covid-19 is over, the world can also see a little clearer, without the help with glasses or other visual aids.

That’s not where the technology ends, the treatment will also be employing the use of mobile applications to scan the eyes of prospective patients in order to help with the administering of the nano-drops. A mobile-compatible laser device will detect where the nanoparticles should go and do its job right. 

As Smadja explained to No Camels, “Once you have your prescription, you enter this number into a computation software that we developed, and we match specific patterns to your number. The laser painlessly marks a tiny spot and etches a pattern on the corner of the cornea. After a pattern has been etched, the patient applies the drops to the eye, and the nanoparticles inside the drops activate the pattern.”

The marvels of technology truly does seem like magic at times, or as author of Clarke’s three laws,  Arthur C. Clarke so eloquently puts it, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” When the time comes that we can choose eyedrops over which pair of glasses or contacts to put on, we will have truly arrived in the future of advanced technology. 

About the Author
Scientist turned techie. Founder at Neliti & Reputio. Interested in sharing lessons learnt from Tel Aviv's bustling technology ecosystem.
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