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Cholesterol lowering medications may reduce risk of glaucoma

October 10, 2019

Patients with the disease typically lose central vision. In about 80 percent of those patients, some underlying cells remain alive although the cover layer has degraded, and they could potentially be treated with tissue transplants. For the remaining 20 percent of patients, however, a chip implanted on the retina could prove to be the best option. Rather than just four openings, such a chip would have thousands, each filling in for a lost light-sensitive cell that could then relay visual signals to the brain.

???It??ôs almost like an ink-jet printer for the eye,??? Fishman said.

Because the chip can draw droplets of fluid in as well as out, it could also enable researchers to take samples in real time, giving them a chemical picture of what goes on in living tissues during certain processes. And it could deliver small amounts of drugs precisely where they??ôre needed, such as dopamine in the brains of patients with Parkinson??ôs disease. ???It??ôs a very new way to interface with the brain,??? Fishman said.

However, he estimated the device is still several years away from clinical trials. ???We still have to look at how these chips interact with the body and ensure there??ôs no toxicity or clogging of microchannels and so forth,??? he said. ???There are a lot of potential pitfalls, as with any new technology, but the advantages are well worth the potential challenges.???

Other Stanford collaborators on the study were Mark Peterman, PhD, a former graduate student in applied physics, and Jaan Noolandi, PhD, senior research scientist in ophthalmology. Funding came from VISX Inc., a California-based company that specializes in the design, manufacture and marketing of proprietary laser vision-correction technologies.

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