smart contact lens by google and novartis to assist those with diabetes and presbyopia

News on developments in the management of diabetes have been showing up with National Diabetes Awareness Week taking place this week.  One that caught our attention was from Google who, in partnership with Novartis – a pharmaceutical company from Switzerland, has moved closer to developing a smart contact lens capable of monitoring glucose levels in the eye.

The contact lens is fitted with tiny sensors and microchips, measuring and reading the amount of glucose in tears.  The information is then sent to a mobile device so diabetics can manage their condition.  The contact lens will also have the ability to restore the eye’s ability to focus.  It has been likened to the autofocus on a camera. It is an exciting development bringing high-technology and biology together.

A spokesman for Novartis explained that alongside the management of their condition for diabetic patients, Novartis is also focusing on people living with presbyopia who are unable to read without glasses.  The ‘smart lens’ could “potentially provide accommodative vision correction to help restore the eye’s natural autofocus on near objects in the form of an accommodation contact lens or intraocular lens as part of the refractive cataract treatment.”

Google will work with Novartis’ eye care division, Alcon to develop the contact lenses to make the technology commercially available in the future. While there have been no official timelines put in place and no guarantee a commercial product will be launched, it is hoped the product could be about five years away.