A technical revolution … Smart lenses capable of diagnosing and treating eye diseases, diabetes and cancer | technology

It seems inevitable that all the devices we use will eventually become smart and rely on technology to perform, from clothes, watches and headphones, to glasses and contact lenses.

The global smart device market is expected to grow from $ 18.08 billion by 2021 to $ 20.64 billion by the end of this year, at a compound annual growth rate of 14.1%. The market size is expected to reach $ 31.95 billion in 2026, with a compound annual growth rate of 11.5% during this period, as stated by the “business wire” platform in a recent report.

This global market consists of sales of smart portable devices and related services to track important pieces of data related to human health and fitness. A smart portable device is any form of electronic device that is meant to be worn on or inside the human body.

Perhaps the most prominent examples are smart watches, smart glasses, fitness devices, smart clothes, etc., to smart contact lenses, which are basically an electronic device that connects to other connected devices, such as smartphones, in addition to the wearer’s body. These clothing and tools collect vital and physical data from the wearer, such as body temperature and heart rate, using a variety of sensors, Business Wire reported.

Among these portable devices and accessories, smart contact lenses are making a revolutionary breakthrough in their development. The global smart contact lens market size was $ 115 million in 2018, and is expected to reach more than $ 1.6 billion by 2026, at an annual growth rate. A 38.9% compounding over this period, as recently reported by the Fortune Business Insights platform.

Global market sales of smart wearable devices include watches, glasses, fitness devices and smart clothes (communication websites)

A new revolution .. Lenses work like screens

Imagine you have to give a talk in front of a large group of people, but instead of looking at your notes and words on a pre-written paper, the words are passed before your eyes no matter what direction you are looking. . This is just one of the many features that contact lens manufacturers promise The smart technology is to provide it in the near future, according to the author Emma and Lacotte in a report recently published by the BBC.

“Imagine you’re a musician in front of your eyes, or you’re an athlete and you have your biometrics, distance and other information you need during practice,” Steve Sinclair of Mojo, a contact lens maker, told the BBC said.

Note that Mojo is about to embark on a comprehensive human trial of the smart contact lens, which will give wearers a vertical display that looks like they’re floating in front of their eyes.

The product’s rigid lens (a larger lens that extends into the white of the eye) corrects the user’s vision, but it also includes a small “microLED” screen, smart sensors and solid batteries, the author said in her reportedly called.

“We have what we call a portable prototype building that really works and will test it in-house soon, and this is where the most interesting part begins, where we’re going to start making performance and power improvements, and we wear these lenses for longer periods to prove we can wear it all day, “says Sinclair.

Lenses capable of diagnosing and treating eye diseases, diabetes and cancer

Other smart lenses are also being developed to collect health data, and these lenses may “include the ability to self-monitor and track intraocular pressure or blood glucose for diabetic patients themselves,” says Dr. Rebecca Rojas, a professor of optics at Columbia University. “It can also provide long-term drug delivery options within the body, which are useful in diagnostic and treatment plans, and it’s exciting to see how far the technology has gone, and the potential it offers to improve patients’ lives. “

In her report, Lakote notes that research is currently underway to build lenses that can diagnose and treat medical conditions from eye diseases to diabetes or even cancer by detecting certain biomarkers, such as levels of light, molecules linked to cancer, or the amount of glucose in tears.

The author cites an example of this, as a scientific team from the University of Surrey (University of Surrey) created a smart contact lens that includes a photodetector to receive visual information, a temperature sensor to diagnose possible corneal disease, and a glucose sensor that monitors glucose levels in the tear fluid.

“We make it very flat, with a very thin retinal layer, and we can place the sensor layer directly on the contact lens so that it directly touches the eye and contacts the tear solution,” said Dr. Yun Long Zhao, a lecturer at the Laboratory of Energy Storage. and Bioelectronics at the University of Surrey, told the BBC.

“You will feel more comfortable when wearing them because they are more flexible than other lenses, and since there is direct contact with the tear solution, it can provide more accurate observation results,” adds Dr. Zhao by.

Doctor examines little boy
Research is currently underway to build lenses that can diagnose and treat medical conditions from eye diseases to diabetes or even cancer (Shutterstock)

Obstacles and challenges

Despite all these exciting developments, smart lens technology still has to overcome a number of obstacles it faces, and one of the major challenges is to power these lenses with batteries that must be incredibly small and provide enough energy to tasks required of it, as the author mentioned in her report.

Mojo is still testing their product, and they want customers to be able to wear their lenses all day, without recharging it.

“The expectation is that you do not constantly consume information from the lens, but do so in short moments throughout the day, and the real life of the battery will depend on how and how often you use it, just like your smartphone or smartwatch today. , ”Explains the company.

Privacy and data security issues

Another issue is the issue of privacy, an issue that has been raised since Google introduced smart glasses in 2014, as Lakote mentioned in her report.

“Any device with a camera on the front that allows the user to take photos or record video poses risks to public privacy,” said Daniel Louvre, senior policy analyst at digital rights campaign group Access Now. With smart glasses there was at least room for a signal. For bystanders during shooting, for example red warning lights, but with contact lenses it would be difficult to know how to integrate such a feature to preserve the privacy of the rest of humanity. ”

Apart from concerns about privacy, manufacturers will also have other concerns about data security for people who wear the lenses.

Smart lenses can only do their job if they follow the user’s eye movements, and this and other data can reveal a lot about the person using them.

“What if these devices collect data and share about the things I look at, how long I look at it, when my heart rate rises when I look at a specific person, or how much I sweat when I ask a specific question?” says Louffer.

“This kind of intimate data can be used to draw problematic conclusions about everything from our sexual orientation to whether we are telling the truth as we speak.”

In turn, the author quotes Mojo as saying that “all data that will be collected is protected by security and privacy laws.”

In addition, there are concerns about the correct and proper use of the product.

In this context, dr. Rojas, “Any type of contact lens can pose a risk to eye health if it is not properly cared for or fitted. whose benefits outweigh the risks.

“I am concerned about non-compliance, poor lens hygiene and excessive wearing, as it can lead to further health complications such as irritation, inflammation, infection or other risks to eye health,” she added.

With Mojo lenses expected to be used for up to a year at a time, Mr. Sinclair that this is a concern, but notes that the smart lens means it can be programmed to detect if it has been adequately cleaned, and even to warn users when they need to replace it.

The company also plans to work with prescription and observation specialists.

“You do not release something like smart contact lenses and you expect everyone to accept them from day one,” says Sinclair. “It will take time, just like all new consumer products, but we think it is inevitable that all our clothes will eventually become smart.”

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