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Bitesize Breakthroughs

  • Introducing the (potential) drug delivery system of the future – the self-reporting color-contact lens. Designed by a team at China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing, it uses molecular imprinting – a technique that creates molecular cavities in a polymer structure – to offer sustained drug release. The lens turns blue when medication is fully released – a shift visible to the naked eye, as well as fiber-optic spectrometers. Researchers hope the lens will provide an effective alternative to eye drops and ointments, which only allow patients to absorb five percent of drugs, with most of the medication going directly into the bloodstream.
Eat Your Greens
  • A team at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research claims that adopting a diet rich in vegetable nitrates can significantly reduce the risk of developing early-stage age-related macular degeneration. The study of 2,000 Australian adults found those who ate between 100 and 142 mgs of dietary nitrates had a 35 percent lower risk of developing early AMD than those who ate less than 69 mgs. “If our findings are confirmed, incorporating a range of foods rich in dietary nitrates – like green leafy vegetables and beetroot – could be a simple strategy to reduce the risk of early macular degeneration (1),” said research leader, Bamini Gopinath. 
Window to the Mind
  • Researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute have found a way to engineer rhodopsins – the light-sensitive proteins used to explore the brain. By flipping proteins in the cell membrane upside down, the team was able to create a diverse palette of tools, potentially doubling the number of proteins available for optogenetics – a technique for manipulating the activity of neurons with light. The engineered rhodopsins are already being used in experiments to study Parkinson’s disease (2).
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  1. J Deng et al., “Self-Reporting Colorimetric Analysis of Drug Release by Molecular Imprinted Structural Color Contact Lens”, ACS Appl Mater Interfaces (2018)
  2. Westmead Institute, “Eating leafy greens could help prevent macular degeneration” (2018). Accessed October 10, 2018. Available at:
  3. Howard Hughes Medical Institute, “Expanding the optogenetic toolkit” (2018). Accessed October 8, 2018. Available at:
About the Author
Phoebe Harkin

Associate Editor of The Ophthalmologist

I’ve always loved telling stories. So much so, I decided to make a job of it. I finished a Masters in Magazine Journalism and spent three years working as a creative copywriter before itchy feet sent me (back)packing. It took seven months and 13 countries, but I’m now happily settled on The Ophthalmologist, where I’m busy getting stuck into all things eyeballs.

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