At Verily, we are fortunate to work on numerous challenging projects that push the edge of scientific research and development across multiple disciplines that impact human health. Our Smart Lens Program, in partnership with Alcon, is a great demonstration of this. As Verily’s first joint collaboration, we worked together with Alcon to pursue groundbreaking innovation for vision and health that could be delivered through a contact lens.
As we stated in our 2018 blog update on the program, the Smart Lens program has evolved into a versatile electronics platform that can support actions, like sensing and transmitting data, on the eye. Over the past two years, our work on a smart accommodating contact lens for presbyopia has progressed significantly, and Verily is now planning to take the accommodating contact lens into the next phase of development.
Presbyopia is a typically age-related condition that impedes a change in focus distance to nearby objects. The accommodating contact lens is designed to allow for on-demand, dynamic focus change in a comfortable hybrid lens. Our research and experimentation has yielded fully functional prototypes with exciting advancements in optic quality, fit and comfort, and manufacturing repeatability.
The prototype lens consists of an electroactive liquid crystal optic, custom ASIC and a battery, all encased in a custom developed rigid gas permeable material, and then wrapped within a soft, silicone hydrogel skirt. Small clinical studies with working, functional lenses demonstrated that this dynamic accommodating contact lens provides wearers with better visual acuity than comparable multifocal contact lenses at both distance and near. Subjects in those studies were able to trigger the lens on and off using the position of their eyelids. The functionality of this device could enable even those with advanced presbyopia to continue to wear contact lenses for many years without the optical distortion associated with high-add multifocal contact lenses. To date, our proof of concept clinical studies have shown good fit and comfort over as many as seven days of wear.
While our current collaboration with Alcon has ended, it has been a highly generative and fruitful partnership. Alcon’s leading knowledge of the space and deep understanding of the contact lens and intraocular lens markets has allowed us to advance the science and engineering of multiple novel projects. Alcon and Verily will continue to explore potential future collaborations that build on the pioneering work we have achieved together.
At Verily, we are exploring how this technology may fit in with the many other programs we have launched in the time since we forged our first partnership in 2014. With over 1.8 billion people globally living with presbyopia and 20 million people living with cataracts, we look forward to reimagining how and when the innovations of tomorrow can improve the sight of individuals around the world.