Strathspey Crown LLC has been granted the first patent on an intraocular lens (IOL) that includes a video camera, an LED display, and cellular, WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities, among other things.
The possibility of having such a lens being implanted in the eye raises questions, including who would be interested in doing so, and why? Strathspey Crown chairman Robert E. Grant tells OIS Weekly that he thinks this will become very popular as an IOL choice for treating cataracts and presbyopia.
Like a Camera in Your Head
Grant points out that, in addition to successfully treating the condition, the lens allows a patient to capture all of their life experiences and record all their memories and not have to carry around a phone or a camera. “So if I’m 45 and I’m suffering from presbyopia, or even 40, or maybe even 30, I’ll go ahead and get my non-dominant lens out, and put this in,” he says.
In addition to being a replacement lens for cataract patients, Grant says, “Eventually there’s going to be a desire for this. There’s going to be a segment of the population that’s going to simply want, as an elective procedure, to have their natural lens taken out and exchanged for a smart ocular lens. And that smart ocular lens is going to have electronics, Wi-Fi capability, cellular capability, GPS, RFID, Bluetooth, you name it. And it’s going to be able to beam everything to my iPhone and my computers.”
Why in the Eye
Grant recalls that in looking at companies like Google, Snap, and Apple, which really popularized the idea of cameras as part of everyday life, he started thinking about where the technology is going to go. Eventually he thought of putting it inside the eye. “It’s a perfect medium for being able to have something like a Google Glass that’s not a contact lens,” he says. “A contact lens is not optimal; a lot of people don’t tolerate them well.”
Grant explains that another reason the eye is a perfect place for this kind of technology is because it’s the only place in the body that you can have an implant that can have a solar power source, which is how the lens will be charged. “You open your eyes, it’s charging,” he says.
The technology does raise other questions around cyber security and the ability to hack into what somebody sees. Grant is well aware of these issues, but adds, “I figure society is going to figure that one out, society has never stopped technology’s advancement.”
In a Pig’s Eye
Grant expects the company will have its first working prototype by the end of 2018 for an animal model. The prototype will be implanted in a pig, and the lens will send the pig’s view out for all to see. Grant thinks the resulting video will go viral, and attract attention for the lens.
The configuration of the lens will be such that when the technology is turned off, the user would have the vision of the regular eye. The mini-screen that can be seen when the technology is turned on would be transparent when turned off. There are configurations for different types of IOLs – accommodating, phakic, different multifocal IOLs – which will be chosen based on the patient’s vision needs.
Grant thinks someday, when the technology is mainstream, it’s possible that every IOL would include it. Referring to his smartphone, he says, “I have more than a library in my hand, why not have more than a library in my head?”
If the lens were implanted as an elective procedure, it would be a self-pay procedure, and thus fits in well with Strathspey Crown’s long-term focus on the self-pay segments of healthcare. The company has a number of holdings, including a neurotoxin that will compete in the Botox field (another self-pay product), and Alphaeon Credit, which is a patient-financing platform for cash-pay procedures.
Not long ago Strathspey Crown announced a realignment of its asset portfolio. “The realignment was simply that we took all of the assets that we had in our portfolio – we had quite a few of them – and made some consolidations around them,” Grant explains. “We just organized it and basically we had good leaders in each of the companies. We’ve got a good balance sheet, we feel very good about where we are right now, and I think we’ve got a very bright future.”
Other Strathspey Crown assets include an energy portfolio, a pain patch, Nanobiosym‘s detection test for Zika virus, and the Shout MD social media platform.