Google sheds light on electronic eye lens development

Alphabet is developing an intraocular electronic eye lens.--Courtesy of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Oft-secretive Alphabet ($GOOG) is shedding light on one of its latest med tech plans: an intraocular electronic eye lens.

In a patent filing this week, the company described an adjustable optical lens that works with the eye's lens capsule, or the transparent membrane surrounding the lens, to help focus light onto the retina. The injection would happen "following the removal of the natural lens from the lens capsule," according to the patent filing.

The product would comprise storage, sensors, radio, battery and an electronic lens. It's powered wirelessly from an "energy harvesting antenna," Alphabet said in the filing. An external device would talk to the eye lens computer, and a processor would translate the information.

Andrew Conrad, the controversial head of Alphabet's Life Sciences division, Verily, invented the technology, the filing says. The CEO came under fire last month after a report showed that top talent left the company due to Conrad's divisive managerial style.

Alphabet is not the only one working on intraocular lens technology. Novartis' ($NVS) Alcon business recently sunk funds into intraocular lens implant maker PowerVision.

Neither side revealed financial terms, but Alcon also gained an option to buy the Belmont, CA-based company through the deal. PowerVision's shape-shifting technology, which has already been tested in pilot studies, mirrors the eye's natural processes to send fluid to the intraocular lens.

"We are committed to finding and developing the best, most innovative treatment option for cataract patients who live with presbyopia," said Michael Onuscheck, global surgical franchise head at Alcon. "The fluid-based technology that PowerVision is working on represents a potential game-changer in the category with the promise to offer patients a natural, continuous range of near to far vision."

- here's the patent filing