Swiss drugmaker Novartis yesterday struck an agreement with Google to develop “smart” contact lenses that would help diabetics to track their blood glucose levels or restore the eye’s ability to focus.
The device would measure glucose in tear fluid and send the data wirelessly to a mobile device, Novartis said. The technology is potentially life-changing for many diabetics, who prick their fingers as many as 10 times daily to check their body’s production of the sugar.
Diabetes affects 382m people around the world and the technology would allow Novartis to compete in a global blood-sugar tracking market that is expected to be worth more than $12bn by 2017.
Novartis chief executive Joseph Jimenez said: “[This] is the Holy Grail of vision care, to be able to replicate the natural functioning of the eye,” adding that Novartis aimed to have the product on the market within five years.