A new hydrogel could change how people receive eye care. Niki Bayat with her friend Andrew Bartynski traveled to the US and coordinated with ophthalmologists, patients, and manufacturers nationwide about the new technology they were developing to transform eye care.
Bayat’s trips were propelled by the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps, a reputable program designated to help scientists like her bring innovative ideas to market quicker and more efficiently.
First Removable Glue for the Eye
Working with a team of engineers, chemists, and ophthalmologists, Bayat is determined to develop the first-ever removable glue for the eye. Her lean team of 5 full-time scientists, they developed a polymer adhesive for eye penetration wounds. The first removable glue for the eye starts as a liquid at room temperature and becomes fully solid around body temperature (97 degrees Fahrenheit) to aid in the healing of an eye injury or wounds.
This new innovation could provide significant help for emergency medical personnel to stabilize eye wounds faster and more efficiently especially in time-sensitive situations where the delay could increase the risk of lasting damage such as punctured eyeballs.
Hydrogel for Dry Eye Syndrome
The Iranian-born Bayat soon discovered that there was another underserved medical condition aside from penetration wounds and eye injuries in which her hydrogel could have a faster impact: dry eye syndrome. Dry eyes, a chronic deficiency of moisture on the surface of the eye that can cause irritation, blurred vision, and scarring.
Patients currently have only three options for treating dry eye syndrome: Take. prescription drug, apply some eye drops, or have an ophthalmologist insert a punctal plugs directly into the tear duct to preserve the naturally produced tears – comparable to plugging up a sink. But this is frowned by Bayat and her team saying that prescription drugs could be expensive, eye drops need a regular application, and frequent re-inserting of plastic blockers could be troublesome.
Bayat’s hydrogel could easily be inserted by a physician into a patient’s tear ducts to prevent tears from draining away and keep the eyes moist and changed only once a year. It claims to be more efficient than plastic blockers which require frequent doctor visits. The hydrogel works like reverse chocolate that starts with a liquid and becomes solid in body temperature allowing it to conform to the shape and size of the eye.
Aside from treating eye conditions, Bayat is also exploring skin, cosmetics, and other applications for the polymer as well.