Besides light sensitive lenses lab devises lenses that deliver antibiotics
MOST people are familiar with eyeglass lenses which grow lighter or darker depend ing on light conditions.
But now, Singapore researchers have patented a process that can do the same for contact lenses.
Researchers at iCare, a new laboratory have succeeded in infusing light sensitive dyes into contact lenses made with special materials.
iCare is part of the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), and it focuses on research into using cutting edge materials to treat eye problems.
The contact lenses created by the new lab behave in much the same way that treat ed spectacle lenses do: They darken when the user is outdoors to shield his eyes from ultraviolet rays and glare but quickly return to normal once he moves indoors.
IBN hopes to have the contact lenses on the market within a year. Negotiations are already under way with two companies to manufacture and market the lenses.
But the researchers are not stopping there. They believe their technique is superior to that currently used for regular spectacle lenses and are also aiming for this market.
IBN chief Jackie Ying said the material developed allows spectacle lenses to lose their tint between 10 and 30 seconds after a user moves indoors. Commercially available glasses on the other hand take up to 30 minutes to do so.
Making such lenses will also be easier and cheaper, Professor Ying said.
Currently, manufacturers need to apply many coats of the tinting material to a spectacle lens With IBN s breakthrough lenses will need far fewer coats.
Speaking at the opening of iCare yesterday Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education, Mr Iswaran called the breakthrough promising.
He noted that there are 314 million people worldwide with vision problems and that the contact lens market is worth about US 6 billion S 8 4 billion a year and growing.
iCare's other projects include contact lenses that deliver antibiotics and drugs for diseases like glaucoma and dry eyes.
The drug loaded contact lenses can release drugs in a controlled and prolonged manner and potentially work better than eye drops.
iCare will work with the National University Hospital Eye Centre @ Biopolis - also opened by Mr Iswaran yesterday to allow for clinical trials to be done on patients among other things.
Mr Iswaran said the partnership between the two centres will add further lustre to the Republic's growing biomedical sciences industry.
"Today, the biomedical sciences sector contributes about 4 per cent of Singapore's GDP and employs about 16 000 individuals.
The biomedical sciences cluster is shaping up as another anchor of our economy alongside the electronics chemicals and engineering sectors," he added.