With increased use of smartphones, tablets, and other electronic devices, dry eye syndrome has become a common ailment.
In fact, in 2020, 2.4-5 million people in South Korea were treated for dry eyes, or its scientific name, "Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca."
Nearly double what was reported a decade ago.
The natural layer of moisture in our eyes, the "tear film," is made of three layers - a lipid layer, an aqueous layer and a mucus layer.
And depending on which of these layers is damaged, the cause of dry eye syndrome varies.
In order to detect the exact layer that has the problem, the conjunctival goblet cells in the mucus layer need to be checked.
But, until now, there hasn't been a way to do that.
South Korean researchers have successfully developed a high resolution imaging device that does the job.
It can take 10 images per second and even clarifies cells that may have been out of focus.
The biggest advantage is that test results are available in just 10 seconds.
And the dye used for the imaging has an antibiotics base, meaning it doesn't cause any damage to a person's eye.
"We have to take the image of the conjunctiva while it's tilted, which is why the microscope we've developed has a very high depth of focus 30 times a normal microscope which has a depth of focus of 10 to 30 micrometers, so that it can produce a stable image of the human eye."
The research team tested the imaging device on rabbits as their eyes are similar in size to human eyes.
Actual tissue cell samples of goblet cells in the rabbit eyes were compared under a microscope with images captured with the imaging device. The two were identical.
The research team plans to receive approval for the device to be used in clinical trials by 2024, before commercializing it to help treat dry eye syndrome in the future.
Lee Eun-jin, Arirang News.