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Focusing on Smart Contact Lens

There has been a dramatic rise in the diabetic population worldwide. From an estimated 108M diabetics in 1980s, the diabetic population in 2014 reached 422M. A majority of the 422M diabetics live in just three countries – China, India, and USA. All three countries doubled their diabetic population between 1980 and 2014. During this period, diabetes became more common among men than women.

Globally, diabetes among adults over 18 years of age has risen to 8.5% in 2014 from 4.7% in 1980.

With diabetes, come other complications, including diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, other eye disorders, leading to blindness. In the USA, an estimated 3M Americans suffer from glaucoma but most Americans remain unaware of having it.

An estimated 1.5M died in 2012 due to diabetes while another 2.2M deaths were attributed to high blood glucose.

Over time, there has been a focus on awareness generation on diabetes, and increased stress on regular screening and self-monitoring for diabetes. Such advocacy for screening diabetes has led to an increasing demand for consumer-friendly, easy-to-use, self-monitoring tools.

Alongside, technology has also evolved alongside advances in ophthalmology. Advances in science as well as technology have led to the development of smart contact lens, with wide-ranging applications.

Today, large companies (including, Google, Samsung, Sony), and many different research groups are working on the smart contact lens technology. The applications range from healthcare to entertainment, from infotainment to virtual reality.

Some of the early patents filed in this domain at the USPTO have been granted, and there is increased research activity than before.

When it comes to diabetes, the evolving technology of smart contact lens, comprises of embedded sensors sandwiched between two soft layers of lens material, a ring-shaped circuit, with a pinhole in the lens. The sensor in the contact lens is able to interact with the tears in the eye, and continuously measure blood sugar levels. Through a wireless antenna, the information will be communicated to external devices.

Among the many different inventors and research groups working on smart contact lens, some promising names include the collaboration involving Verity and Novartis; Sensimed and others. The Verily and Novartis collaboration has been ongoing for two years now, and still some time away from developing working prototypes of the contact lens.

Medella Health, a Canadian startup co-founded by Harry Gandhi, joined the race to develop a smart contact lens in 2013. It recently raised $1.4M in seed money to further its product development. Medella’s lens lasts up to a month, and researchers say the system is easy to calibrate.

If you are a scientist working on smart contact lenses, and have secured US patent, we would love to hear from you. Hammerkopf would be happy to help you leverage your patents, as there is definite market interest in this technology.


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