KCBS_740 STANFORD (KCBS) — Researchers at Stanford University are hoping their work will lead to the building of a better contact lens.

More than 30 million Americans currently wear contacts, but nearly half switch back to glasses because the lenses are just too irritating to use.

Saad Bhamla, Postdoctoral Bioengineering Scholar at Stanford suffers from lens discomfort himself. He found that the ‘tear film,’ an oily lipid layer on the film of the eye, is easily disrupted by the lenses that people wear today.

This discovery led Bhamla and his fellow engineers at Stanford to develop a machine called the iDrop, which models how the lipid layer works to help manufacturers design more comfortable lenses.

The device mimics the actual surface of the human eye, a breakthrough Bhamla said is key to research.

“Now you have a device that actually allows you to systematically change things, then study it. And now you can try different recipes in this setup, and you can start to see, which one is more, well, closer, or more capable,” he said.

Bhamla says they’re already offering the device to manufacturers in hopes that it will help them develop more comfortable lenses.