“Smart lens” technology

     I have a pretty strong corrective lens prescription.  I have astigmatism in my left eye which is not corrected very well by glasses, but toric contact lenses do a pretty good job since they are weighted and return to proper position with every blink.  With my prescription I am becoming more and more limited in what corrective lenses can do for me as I become more and more nearsighted.  As I get older, my eyes are starting to change less as the muscles in my eye begin to weaken, but I have often wondered, “What will I do if my eyes move beyond the realm of what can be corrected with current lens technology? ”   

A prototype smart lens.
Credit: Novartis

     Enter Google X and their scifi problem solvers. They have designed “smart lens” technology that works to incorporate sensors, microchips, and other electronics into contact lenses.  Novartis is licensing this technology with a couple ideas in mind. One possible use is the treatment of the loss of the eye’s ability to focus on close objects (presbyopia).  Refractive surgery would likely need to be combined with the lens, but together they could possibly return the eye’s natural autofocus ability.     This seems like just the beginning of what a lens like this could do to correct vision. Who knows, maybe one day I will benefit from this early work with “smart lenses”. 
     Another really impressive idea is using the “smart lens” to measure glucose levels in the eye fluid of people with diabetes. People today must continuously draw their blood to measure glucose levels, but maybe one day their “smart lens” would wirelessly send their glucose level to their phone. No fingerpicks. Pretty neat idea if they can get it to work as reliably as a blood glucose meter. 
     Maybe Google X can develop a cheap sensor for Chemists Without Borders that would wirelessly send water contaminant data to an analyst halfway across the world…you never know…horseless wagons were futuristic long ago.

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