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  July 23, 2014
Next Dimension

Alcon to Enter Smart Lens Market With Technology Licensed from Google

By Eye² Staff

Alcon's entry into the field of smart contact lenses and IOLs, made possible through a licensing agreement with Google announced last week by its parent company, Novartis, gives a significant boost to this small but growing segment of the vision care market.

Under the terms of the licensing deal, which is subject to anti-trust approvals, Google[x] and Alcon will collaborate to develop a "smart lens" that has the potential to address ocular conditions. The smart lens technology involves non-invasive sensors, microchips and other miniaturized electronics which are embedded within contact lenses. Novartis said its interest in the technology is currently focused in two areas:

  • Helping diabetic patients manage their disease by providing a continuous, minimally invasive measurement of the body's glucose levels via a "smart contact lens" which is designed to measure tear fluid in the eye and connects wirelessly with a mobile device;
  • For people living with presbyopia who can no longer read without glasses, the "smart lens" has the potential to provide accommodative vision correction to help restore the eye's natural autofocus on near objects in the form of an accommodative contact lens or intraocular lens as part of the refractive cataract treatment.

Although Alcon did not offer a timetable for when it will commercialize smart lens products, industry observers say it could take the company several years to get to market. There is at least one other smart contact lens on the market already, Triggerfish, developed by the Swiss company Sensimed. However, it is not yet available in the U.S.

Sensimed describes Triggerfish as a micro-sensor embedded in the lens that provides an automated recording of continuous ocular dimensional change over 24 hours. The lens works in conjunction with an adhesive antenna which is placed around the eye that receives wirelessly the information from the contact lens. The data is transmitted through a thin flexible cable from the antenna to the portable recorder that is worn by the patient and stores the acquired data during the monitoring session. At the end of the recording period, the data is transferred via Bluetooth from the recorder to the software previously installed on the practitioner's computer.

Click here to see a video about Sensimed Triggerfish.

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