Blinking eye on a chip could help develop new dry eye treatments

US researchers have described how the technology could be used to test medication for dry eye disease

computer chip
Scientists in the US have developed an eye-on-a-chip that could one day be used to test new treatments for dry eye disease.

The model eye, which is capable of blinking, is described by researchers in Nature Medicine

It was constructed through 3D printing a porous scaffold which human cells are then grown on.

A section of gelatin acts as the eyelid, sliding mechanically across the eye at the same rate that a human blinks.

A tear duct feeds artificial tear secretions into the eye which is then spread by the eyelid to form a tear film.

To mimic conditions of dry eye disease, the scientists cut the blink rate of the model eye by half and put it in a controlled environment that replicates real-life conditions.

Testing revealed that the performance of the eye-on-a-chip was similar to a human eye in both normal and dry eye-inducing settings.

Image credit: University of Pennsylvania