Sealing battlefield eye injuries with “reversible superglue”

A temperature-sensitive fluid that becomes semi-solid when applied to the eye could help to prevent vision loss among soldiers

07 Dec 2017 by Selina Powell

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.

Results from the research are published in Science Translational Medicine. 


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