In the past year, the world has been introduced some of the best Augmented Reality (AR) technology. From the Microsoft HoloLens to the Meta 2, AR smartglasses are poised to revolutionize the way we interact with digital content. It’s certainly an exciting time – even Apple has pointed its consumer tech compass towards AR innovation instead of Virtual Reality (VR). But what we have yet to see is a surgically-implanted lens designed specifically for augmented reality. Just imagine having the ability to overlay images on top of our real-world with eye surgery as invasive as Lasik.
The Future of Cataract Surgery
Once considered a technology only seen in Sci-Fi movies like Minority Report, AR lenses are now on the verge of becoming reality. With a clinical study already underway outside of the U.S., Omega Ophthalmics is targeting 70-somethings needing surgery to remove cataracts and other degenerative diseases. According to a recent TechCrunch article, about 3.6 million patients in the U.S. get some sort of procedure for cataracts each year. “Cataract surgery involves the removal of the cloudy lens and replacing it with a thin artificial type of lens.”
Seeing an opportunity with so many seniors having to undergo the surgery, co-founder and board certified ophthalmologist Gary Wortz created a company around integrating AR technology inside the human eye. So what would a senior do with advanced technology implanted in their new eye lens? From augmented maps to help elders get around to real-time alerts if something serious medically needed attention, the real-world application is rather boundless. The technology could remind them to take the proper medication with a simple glance at their prescriptions.
Omega Seeks FDA Approval
Omega Ophthalmics’ lens is more than just an Augmented Reality platform. It’s a central hub for manufacturers to integrate state-of-the-art sensors, deliver targeted drug treatments, and store pertinent health information. “Inside of the eye we are creating this biologically inert space that is going to stay open for business for whoever wants to develop an implant that will sort of fit hand-in-glove,” Wortz said in an interview with TechCrunch.
Still needing FDA approval, Omega’s clinical study involving seven patients has reached its six-month mark with no incidents to report. With a series of yet-to-be released studies and backing from Ophthalmologists, the tech start-up seems to have the support of the medical community behind them – now it’s just a matter of solidifying the FDA stamp of approval. “We know there is a huge market for AR,” co-founder and CEO Rick Ifland told TechCrunch. “This is essentially a real estate play that tech companies don’t realize yet.” Omega hopes to receive approval in Europe in the next 12-24 months following the results of their clinical trial.
Widespread Application for AR Technology
With the initial plan focused on helping seniors with health concerns, there seems to be a rather widespread application opportunity outside of elder care. From “super soldiers” needing real-time data overlays during battle to industrial workers learning highly complex tasks on-the-job, the Omega implant is limited only by the creativity of manufacturers interested in benefiting from the technology.