Smart contact lenses are to result from Novartis and Google partnership.
The Swiss pharmaceutical company is teaming up with the multinational internet and tech company to create wearable technology for the eye, with the goal being to develop contact lenses that feature embedded electronics that not only improve the vision of the wearer, but also monitors their health.
The smart contacts could benefit individuals with diabetes or presbyopia.
Although terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed, Novartis stated that its Alcon unit will work with Google X, Google’s clandestine division, on lenses that feature microchips, non-invasive sensors and embedded mini electronics that can restore the natural focus of the eye in individuals who cannot read without glasses, a condition known as presbyopia, which is a form of vision loss that occurs naturally with age. In addition, the contacts can be used to monitor insulin levels of diabetics.
“Think about a contact lens that could help the eye autofocus on that newspaper and then when you look up it would autofocus in the distance,” said Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez, who added, “This is a key step for us to go beyond the confines of traditional disease management, starting with the eye.”
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This wearable technology was first unveiled by Google in January.
At the start of the year, Google revealed its lenses, which feature sensors that reside between two soft lens layers, which are designed to measure the levels of glucose present in the tears of the wearers. The information collected by the sensors is wirelessly sent to a linked smartphone. Google commented that it hoped the wearable tech would be able to aid diabetics worldwide, preventing the need for them to regularly use traditional painful blood test methods for monitoring.
Moreover, Novartis has said that it would like to develop wearable technology that offers people an alternative to glasses and standard contact lenses. This may include the possible creation of “intraocular lenses”, which would be contacts that are inserted into the eye permanently to provide continual vision correction. Jimenez said that as patients become more involved in their personal health care, technology will gain greater importance in pharmaceuticals.