It is truly incredible how technology has advanced and adapted over the past 50 to 100 years in this country.
Some would argue that our country’s greatest minds are in the technology world, and these minds have created a multitude of medical devices to improve our methods of monitoring and treating disease in the healthcare realm.
Among such devices currently under development is a “smart” contact lens.
Three technology giants, Google, Samsung and Sony, have filed or gained patents on these lenses.
The only lens that is medically focused, however, is the device being developed by Google.
Google has been working on this device since at least 2014, and its goal is to develop a contact lens that can continuously monitor blood glucose levels for diabetic patients.
Google has been working with Alcon, a company that is already very prominent in the contact lens space, to develop a lens that will contain a small microchip and microscopic electronic circuit.
The ability to monitor blood glucose levels continuously, and without a needle stick, would greatly improve a patient’s quality of life and physicians’ understanding of fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
Google has not yet released a date when the lenses might be commercially available.
Google is also working on another lens that would automatically focus on reading, computers and other materials that currently require the use of reading glasses for many over the age of 45.
Samsung and Sony are working on a “smart” contact lens that is less medically oriented. Their lens patents describe a contact lens that would function as a camera and would take pictures when triggered by the wearer’s blink.
The difference between the two is that Samsung’s lens requires a smartphone to which the photos would be sent while Sony’s lens does not.
These lenses are reminiscent of the Google Glass, which debuted in May 2014. This wearable technology did not immediately take off, and Google stopped producing and is currently redesigning the product.
Privacy and safety are major concerns when considering these devices. Imagine if you could be photographed just by the blink of an eye, or consider the accidents that might result from wearers looking at their pictures or videos rather than where they are going.
As a medically focused eye care provider, I am most intrigued by Google’s product. However, none of the three devices has a projected date of availability at this time.
Caroline Bundrick, O.D. is an optometrist practicing at Darling Eye Center, with offices in Bluffton and on Hilton Head Island.