A team of scientists and engineers at the University of Southern California have produced a gel that can be used as a temporary seal when people are injured without immediate access to medical care.
The “reversible superglue” could be used to minimise vision loss after a traumatic eye injury on the battlefield.
The gel changes from a liquid to a strong semi-solid when it is applied to the eye. When the patient is ready for surgery to permanently close the injury, doctors can remove the seal by adding water.
A hydrogel called PNIPAM, which has previously been used in the development of retinal implants, is incorporated in the gel.
PNIPAM has a transition temperature close to the heat of the human eye, meaning that its properties can be tweaked in order to form a solid seal as soon as it makes contact with the ocular surface.
Researchers note that ocular injuries in warfare have increased with the increasing use of improvised explosive devices.