We all know how precious our eyesight is, especially for those of us that have been able to take advantage of contacts and glasses to improve once-blurry vision. We know that being without your Biofinity lenses or Acuvue Oasys contacts for just a day can make the world such a different place. Luckily, scientists agree, and they’ve been continually working on new, innovative advances that improve vision for those of us with less than 20/20 vision. Today, we’re here to talk about something that sounds like it’s straight out of a sci-fi flick: mini telescope contact lenses. It sounds crazy, but believe us, not only have scientists dreamt up this fantastic futuristic creation, they’ve been actively working on getting it out to the public.
What They Do
The current goal of this nifty invention is to help people who suffer from age-related blindness, which is the third leading cause of blindness around the world. By prolonging vision, people are able to have a better, higher quality of life, all thanks to a little ol’ pair of contact lenses. To describe this futuristic product in a nutshell, they’re essentially contact lenses that have been embedded with incredibly tiny mirrors that allow a person’s vision to be magnified up to three times. That’s a whole of magnification—and means things once deemed too small to even see are now able to be viewed and recognized! It has the potential to be a massive breakthrough in the fantastic world of contacts.
How They Work
The smart lenses, as they’ve been dubbed, are just like a regular contact lenses, except that they have a thin, reflective telescope created from a series of mirrors and filters. When wearing them, light that enters the eye bounces through the mirrors, in turn making the image appear larger—hence the earlier declaration that they can make things appear up to three times as large as they really are. The current model is 1.55mm thick. The thickness of contact lenses is always a concern, as thicker ones tend to block the proper amount of oxygen from entering the eye, which is vital to overall eye health. The eventual goal for these telescopic lenses is to also create a contact lens solution that is high in oxygen that can be dispensed into the eye throughout the day. They’ve really thought of everything, haven’t they?
Now, this isn’t the first time scientists have attempted a smart lens. But let’s take a quick look back at the history of contact lenses in general. Leonardo da Vinci drew sketches in the early 1500s that hypothesized that the eye could be changed by placing the cornea directly in contact with water. We all know that didn’t exactly work out, but the idea was certainly there. After much iteration, the first contact lenses became readily available to the public in the 1970s. That’s quite a long time, no? But when you’re talking about something as fragile as the eyeball and vision, you’ve simply got to make sure it’s perfect. Likewise, what makes this new invention so exciting is that it allows the wearer flexibility thanks to a pair of eyeglasses that come with it. This lets the user switch between regular and magnified vision, depending on their needs throughout the day. The glasses are battery-operated and employ the use of LCD technology, which, quite amazingly, is able to monitor the movement of the eye. Because of this, the glasses are able to tell if light entering the eyeball is being magnified or not.
Most of us wear contacts so that we can ditch the burden of glasses, but with this new technology, both are really needed—at least for now! That’s because having magnified vision around the clock isn’t ideal, as it cuts down on your total vision field, as you are instead focused on seeing smaller details. Really, you need both—to be able to view small things around you, while being aware of the larger picture and scenery. And, of course, it’s important to remember that the option for some people is wearing a pair of futuristic telescopic contact lenses and glasses—or being essentially blind. We’ll take the former, please!