Several fascinating things are coming down the pipeline for eye care and eyewear. Google secured two patents a couple of weeks ago for a smart contact lens with the capability of monitoring a diabetic patient’s blood glucose level, thus saving those patients the inconvenience (and pain) of a finger-prick once or twice a day. The project was announced in January. The contact lens would have embedded sensors and one or more antennae that could alert a patient when glucose levels are high or low. Such technology faces two hurdles: one is FDA approval, which is safe to assume would be several years away. The other is at this writing, we do not have a real good idea of how tear glucose levels correlate to blood glucose levels, and all of our current medical standards of care are based on blood glucose. Thus Google faces the challenge of both perfecting the lens’ electronics as well as coming up with a dependable way to marry up how a tear glucose level of “x” correlates to a blood glucose level of “y.”
Google is also developing camera technology in a contact lens. This would allow data from a person’s field of vision to be relayed to a smartphone. It could allow users with decreased vision to “zoom in” or “zoom out” on their surroundings, therefore increasing their ability to physically interact with their environment. The blind could receive alerts if they are walking into a dangerous area. Techies, of course, could enjoy similar benefits provided by Google Glass.
Finally, Revision Optics is developing a hydrogel corneal inlay that is designed to correct presbyopia (the over-forty reading problem). Much like intraLASIK, a laser would create a corneal flap and the inlay would be placed on to the cornea. The flap is then placed back over the device. The inlay itself is extremely small, only 2 millimeters wide and 32 micrometers thick, and has been dubbed the Raindrop® Near Vision Inlay. It is currently classified as an investigational device.
Sources: Revisionoptics.com, AOA.com, LA Times (Salvador Rodriguez) 4/15/14. Image: Google