Using ‘good’ bacteria to create a self-lubricating contact lens

A contact lens with bacteria embedded in the rim of the device could improve comfort in wearers prone to dry eye

 A man with curly dark hair wearing a green t shirt is seen in profile inserting a contact lens into his eye in front of a mirror

German researchers have described their efforts to create a self-lubricating ‘living’ contact lens using bacteria.

Writing in Advanced Materials, scientists from INM-Leibniz Institute for New Materials and Saarland University highlighted that the increasing prevalence of dry eye syndrome within society creates challenges for long-term contact lens wear.

“Here a novel approach with the potential to improve and extend the lubrication properties of contact lenses is presented,” the authors shared.

The contact lens contains Corynebacterium glutamicum bacteria embedded in the rim of the device.

The researchers highlighted that this bacteria forms no endotoxins and is generally recognised as safe.

The bacteria forms part of a ‘biofactories’ within the contact lens that produce and release hyaluronic acid.

The biofactories are located in a functional ring on the lens periphery, outside the vision area of the lens.

“Our experiments showed seven days of hyaluronic acid release in a tunable and sustained manner. This approach represents a sustainable alternative for long-term lubrication and might allow extended wear and greater comfort of future CLs,” the authors concluded.