The next-generation smart lens

Forget lenses on the eye, Google looks to a smart device in the eye


Google’s early designs for a smart intraocular lens device have been filed with the US patent office.

The Alphabet-owned company’s patent details the way the device, which is unlikely at this stage to have a prototype, might one day look.

If it becomes a reality, it would be fitted into the lens capsule of the eye, after the person’s natural lens had been removed. The smart intraocular lens will adjust its focus in response to the accommodation forces the ciliary muscles apply on the lens capsule, either directly or indirectly, the patent document said.

The battery-powered device may also include additional lenses to correct for myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism, the filed paperwork noted.

Transparent nanowires or alternate conductive materials may be used as circuitry in the gadget, without the wearer’s vision being affected.

Other possible features that may be included are a variety of sensors, a data storage unit and an antenna to receive or transmit signals using an interface device.

The patent imagines that the intraocular lens, through a connected smart phone or even a clothing-integrated device, could send information from the smart lens to the optometrist’s office, allowing better diagnosis and monitoring of the patient’s condition.

The design also noted that the battery in the intraocular device could be powered up overnight while a person is sleeping, using wireless recharging from a device near or in the bed or pillow.

The document also describes how the smart device may in future be inserted into the eye’s lens capsule of patients with congenital or age-related accommodation issues.

First, the natural lens will be cut from the eye, or broken up using ultrasonic vibrations, with the pieces suctioned out.

A specialised fluid will be inserted into the lens capsule during this process, followed by either an intact device or the components of the device to be assembled after implantation, the patent outlined.

When completely assembled and correctly positioned, the fluid will be solidified. The smart lens will then sit within the capsule surrounded by a solid polymeric material, which may be designed to stop UV light from entering and damaging the eye, the documents noted.