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Google’s Smart Contact Lenses: A Smart Choice?

Google has been granted a patent that could result in “smart” contact lenses for diabetes patients. An embedded chip in the lens has the potential to measure glucose levels.

The company confirmed in January they are working with Novartis on this project and is currently in talks with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The lenses will be comprised of layers, with a chip between them. The glucose sensor within the chip features a pinhole, where fluid from the eye would be measured every second.Earlier this year, Google refocused efforts from the Google Glass project, with some sources saying the product was simply ahead of its time. The implications of the project raise many questions about vision, including additional digital eye strain and potential harm to eyes. Not to mention, potential privacy concerns about the camera. “Google is about taking risks and there’s nothing about adjusting Glass that suggests we’re ending it,” said Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman.What do smart contact lenses mean for the eyes of diabetes patients? Diabetes affects many parts of the body and is one of the leading causes of new onset blindness in adults in the United States. With diabetes, your body cannot properly produce or utilize insulin, which breaks down gluclose (sugar) in the blood.  As with hypertension, high blood sugar levels can damage your blood vessels, particularly those in your eyes. When the blood vessels in the eyes are damaged, this is called diabetic retinopathy. The best way to reduce the chances of having diabetic retinopathy is to control your blood glucose as well as possible – which, in the future, could be made easier by a smart contact lens.In addition, everyone should have an annual eye exam that includes a dilated exam. Any diabetes-related damage can be seen when the eye doctor looks into the back of your eye at the retina.

Image Courtesy of Google