|A new sensor can detect differences in vitamin C concentration |
in fluids that leak from the eye. Higher concentrations indicate
a more severe injury, the researchers report.
(Credit: L. Brian Stauffer)
Engineers are developing a portable sensor that can quickly and inexpensively determine whether an eye injury is mild or severe. The device, called OcuCheck, measures levels of vitamin C in the fluids that coat or leak from the eye. The sensor could speed efforts to determine the extent of eye injuries at accident sites, in rural areas lacking ophthalmology specialists or on the battlefield. The technology is reported in the journal Scientific Reports.
"The sensor takes advantage of the fact that the ocular tear film - the viscous fluid that coats the eyeball - contains low levels of ascorbic acid, which is just vitamin C, while the interior of the eye contains much higher levels," said Dipanjan Pan, who is creating the device in collaboration with ophthalmologist Dr. Leanne Labriola. "So the concept is, if there is severe damage to the eye that penetrates deeply, the ascorbic acid will leak out in high concentration."
The new sensor uses graphene platelets that are layered 1 nanometer thick on filter paper. Upper layers include a unique polymer that interacts with the graphene; gold electrodes; and ascorbate oxidase, an enzyme that binds to ascorbic acid.
"The idea is that the moment that the ascorbic acid comes in and binds to the ascorbate oxidase, it will pull the polymer out of its interaction with the graphene," changing the sensor's electrical properties, Pan said.
In tests with clinical samples from 16 patients undergoing eye surgery, the team found that their sensor could - with high sensitivity, accuracy and specificity - detect a range of ascorbic acid concentrations.
"This technology has the ability to impact a large number of patients, particularly in rural settings, where access to an ophthalmologist can be limited," Labriola said.
The team is now working to build a housing for the sensor that will be portable and easy to use, and they have founded a new company, InnSight Technology, to help them bring the device to market.
Based on material originally posted by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.