Researchers at Purdue drain issues with glaucoma treatment devices.

(We) created a new drainage device that combats (the) problem of buildup,” Hyowon Lee, an assistant professor in the School of Biomedical Engineering, researcher at the Birck Nanotechnology Center and leader of the research team explained in a Purdue News press release. This often renders half of the current implantable glaucoma drainage devices inoperational after five years due to biofouling, the accumulation of microorganisms on the device while and after it is implanted.

The team’s device is constructed with microactuators, which vibrate and shake biomaterial buildup loose from the tube when introduced to a magnetic field. Lee said that the magnetic field can be introduced at any time from outside the body to “essentially give the device a refresh.”

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that about 3 million Americans suffer from glaucoma. This can only be treated with surgical implants or medications, both of which can help to relieve pressure buildup inside eyes and improve eyesight.

This technology was published in the latest issue of “Microsystems and Nanoengineering,” a journal on emerging topics in microsystems and nanoengineering. According to the Purdue News release, the Purdue researchers’ device is unique in its ability to vary the flow resistance, which makes it possible for customizable treatment for each patient at different stages of glaucoma experiencing different degrees of buildup of pressure inside the eye. This “allows for a more reliable, safe and effective implant for treating glaucoma,” according to Lee.

The researchers are currently working with the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization to patent their device and are looking for licensing partners.