New York: An Indian-origin engineer and an ophthalmologist in the US 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, according to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign statement.
"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 the university's bioengineering professor Dipanjan Pan.
Pan is creating the device in collaboration with Carle ophthalmologist 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."
Two post-doctoral researchers in Pan's laboratory, Manas Gartia and Santosh Misra, helped develop the new sensor.
At present, those with eye injuries must find their way to a hospital to have their injuries assessed. The process is often complicated, time-consuming and imprecise, Pan said.
"The new device will change the standard of care for evaluating eye traumas," Labriola said.
No current techniques for assessing eye injuries involve measurements of ascorbic acid, Pan said. "So this is a one-of-a-kind approach."
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 researchers said.
OcuCheck has not yet been tested on samples from trauma patients.
"But we have mixed the samples with blood, and the sensor's sensitivity to ascorbic acid is retained even in the presence of blood. The filter paper will filter out the blood," Pan said.
"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 researchers' work was reported in the journal Scientific Reports.