The following article was originally written for Insight magazine.
A new wearable biomedical device for people with glaucoma to non-invasively test their intraocular pressure (IOP) at home is a winner of the international James Dyson Award.
Usually won by just one student innovator, the competition this year had three winners, after a record number of entries. Each receives £30,000 in prize money.
The device, called Home Eye Pressure E-skin Sensor (HOPES), was developed by Kelu Yu, Si Li and David Lee from the National University of Singapore.
Yu was inspired to create a more efficient way of testing IOP for glaucoma patients when her father was diagnosed with the disease in 2019. “This personal experience motivated me to delve deeper into the disease and treatments,” she explained.
This year's International winner of the James Dyson Award was inspired by one of the inventor’s father's diagnosis of glaucoma.
— The James Dyson Award (@JamesDysonAward) November 26, 2021
“Regular monitoring of IOP fluctuation is critical to collect a comprehensive IOP profile to determine long-term treatment goals. Yet, at-home self-tonometry is inaccurate while the more accurate standard […] remains a clinical practice. Therefore, the field of glaucoma has lagged far behind in developing a safe, accurate, low-cost, at-home eye pressure sensor,” said Yu.
HOPES is designed to offer a low-cost way for users to test their IOP regularly at home. After creating a profile in the HOPES mobile app, the user takes a measurement by placing the fingertip of the glove on the centre of their eyelid and waiting for a notification to say the test has been completed. Its designers explained that the glove’s fingertip uses a sensor that can capture dynamic pressure information from an eye with sub-millisecond precision and instantly send intraocular pressure data to a paired device.
The team who created the device eventually intend to bring HOPES to market. However, there is still a lot of work to be done with the device before they can achieve this goal. The team are currently working with clinicians in Singapore to optimise the performance of the device with more data and improve on the design. The next steps will then be to run pilot programs and apply for funding to enable them to market the product globally.