“Smart” Contact Lenses

Girl putting in contact lensJust when you thought you’d already heard about the latest in eye technology, Google surprises us again. The idea of the smart contact lens was introduced to the public earlier this year.

Growing up, I’d always been into science fiction. You couldn’t keep me from the latest superhero movies. I’ve always been captivated by technology, but I really never thought I’d see the day that these amazing advancements would come to pass. Twenty years ago I could only have dreamed that my car would one day be able to park itself or that I would be able to take a video or a picture with just my glasses, but these things are here!

Google, along with pharmaceutical company Novartis, is developing a smart contact lens to constantly monitor blood sugars in diabetics. The lens contains a low powered microchip and hair-thin electronic circuit and is able to measure the level of glucose in the tear film. Still under development, this technology is not expected to be ready for public use for at least 5 years.

Another remarkable possible use for smart contact lens technology involves the potential ability to embed microscopic cameras within the contact lens material. This could have huge implications for the visually impaired, as the contacts might be programmed to detect color, motion, or even specific objects or faces. The idea is that the sensors in the contact lens could communicate an alert to a receiver (like a cellular phone) and verbally alert the wearer to dangers, such as oncoming traffic in a busy intersection, or other important information about the wearer’s surroundings.

Although they are not available to the public at this point, I am in awe of the possible applications of this lens. There are constant debates about the advantages and disadvantages of technology and whether or not these advancements are in fact truly making life better for us as a society, but I find this one very exciting!

Written by Shawnté G, Surgical Coordinator/Ophthalmic Technician