My annual trip to CES, the mega consumer electronics show held each January in Las Vegas, always yields interesting discoveries. This year was no exception.

One of my most significant finds came on my first morning at the show. While making the rounds at Eureka Park, the exhibit hall where about 900 startups are packed together tightly (it’s on the lower level of the Sands Convention Center, a place familiar to Vision Expo West attendees), I came across LicriEye. Developed by international pharma giant Merck, LicriEye is an intraocular lens that lets ophthalmologists individually adjust the patient’s focus after cataract surgery non-invasively using a laser. The secret sauce in LicriEye is Merck’s proprietary liquid crystal technology.

The technology is impressive and could represent the start of a new era in IOLs. But the bigger question is, why is an IOL maker exhibiting at CES?

The reason is that CES has expanded well beyond the conventional boundaries of consumer electronics. In recent years, it has become a major showcase for health and wellness technology. Many medical device makers now exhibit at the show, and the number of developers of optical and ophthalmic products grows each year. Although most of the other vision-related products at CES are not medical, the appearance of LicriEye is a great example of how the optical and tech sectors are increasingly intersecting.

I found more examples of the optical-tech nexus among the augmented reality (AR) exhibits. One of the leading players in AR, Vuzix, debuted the Blade, a sharp-looking pair of augmented reality glasses that can be ordered with an ophthalmic lens insert made by Luxexcel, the Dutch company that has been generating excitement among optical prescription labs with its innovative 3D lens printing technology.

Another leader in AR, Lumus, is collaborating with Deep Optics, a company that is developing auto-focusing lenses with some backing from Essilor.

These and other similar collaborations could benefit both the optical and tech sectors. Watch the optical-tech nexus, because that’s where some of the most exciting developments are taking place.

Andrew Karp
Group Editor, Lenses and Technology