NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new type of contact lens promises to do more than help people see. It’s also been designed to predict who is at risk of getting serious glaucoma.

Paul Siegfried has been living with glaucoma for 15 years.

“If you get the diagnosis you should take it very seriously,” he told CBS2’s Marlie Hall.

Glaucoma damages the optic nerve which can leave patients with vision loss and even blindness. Pressure inside the eye is the only risk factor that can be controlled.

Siegfried took part in a new study at New York Presbyterian-Columbia that tested a smart contact lens on 40 glaucoma patients. As eye pressure fluctuates, a sensor in the lens detects changes in the curvature of the eye.

“This contact lens allows us to differentiate those who were progressing faster from those who were stable,” Dr. C. Gustavo De Moraes explained.

Patients wear a wireless device that sends a readout to the ophthalmologist.

Doctors said the ultimate goal of the smart lens technology is to help monitor patients continuously, day and night.

“We have no way of measuring pressure at night at the moment. We are missing critical pieces of information to help us make decisions,” Dr. Jeffrey Liebmann said.

Siegfried’s results showed he is at low risk for his glaucoma to advance quickly.

“Maybe I would have trouble in my 80s or 90s, and if I make it that far I can live with that,” Siegfried said.

The 68-year-old is able to manage with just eye drops, and sees his ophthalmologist regularly. The study was recently published in the journal Ophthalmology.


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