South Korean researchers have shown a contact lens (CL) that irradiates the retina with far-red/ near-infrared (NIR) light prevented diabetic retinopathy (DR) in rabbits.
A team led by Professor Sei Kwang Hahn and PhD candidate Geon-Hui Lee at Pohang University of Science and Technology (Postech) found that photobiomodulation therapy with LED-loaded contact lenses appeared to significantly reduce neovascularisation and haemorrhage in the retina – two hallmarks of DR. Compared to controls, rabbits treated with 120μW far-red light for 15 minutes, three times per week for eight weeks showed reduced levels of angiogenesis-associated markers including cyclooxygenase (COX-2) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).
The wireless CL was made of silicone elastomer and researchers said that the intensity of light and duration of use did not generate sufficient heat to record any corneal damage. Although the mechanism requires further research, the study demonstrates that smart far red/NIR contact lenses could prevent DR, they said.