BOSTON (CBS) - Some forty million Americans wear contact lenses, but imagine if those lenses could do more than just bring the outside world into focus?
There are scientists working on the next generation of contact lenses, so called "smart lenses", and the potential is pretty amazing.
These are so called smart lenses, packed with circuits, sensors, and wireless technology.
WBZ-TV's Paula Ebben reports
"There's a possibility to develop a really, really important new tool for medicine," says Smart Lense developer Babak Parviz. He's testing a smart lens that could one day replace the standard blood test. "It allows for a very non-invasive, continuous monitoring of the human body."
Parviz believes bio-markers found in the blood, such as cholesterol, sodium, potassium and glucose can all be found on the surface of the eye.
One lens can monitor glucose and radio out the result. "Someday maybe you can read the result with your cell phone."
Kim carter has Type 1 diabetes and pricks her finger 5 to 7 times a day. "I hate it," says Kim, "it hurts." So, she says she would definitely try it out if one became available on the market.
Some new lenses don't just monitor disease. They treat it.
Dr. Joe Ciolino is a doctor at mass eye and ear infirmary: "The lens has the ability to release medication to the eye for a long period of time."
Harvard researchers are also testing such a device. A light brown donut shape in the center of this lens contains a drug. Dr. Dan Kohane of Children's Hosptial, Boston adds, "The object would be placed in the eye and would slowly leak out over time" thereby delivering the medication.
Perhaps the most amazing idea for a smart lens is this one: Tiny LEDs built into the lens overlay images into your field of vision. The idea is that one day you would be able to stream health data, the internet, even television, right in front of your eyes.
That appeals to grad student Matt Davis: "You could be reading your emails when you walk down the street, things like that."
Just watch out where you walk!
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