Researchers have unveiled latest version of contact lens that allows the bearer to zoom in and out by winking. The contact lenses have to be paired with smart glasses which recognize winks and can ignore blinks in to order to let the wearers to switch between normal and magnified vision. According to the Optics specialist Eric Tremblay from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, these lenses hold a lot of promise for low vision and age related macular degeneration (AMD).
There are glasses with AMD which are already available in that market which have mounted telescopes but they look quite bulky and tend to interfere with social interaction. They are also not able to track the eye movement thereby users have to position their eyes and tilt their head to use them. The first version of the telescopic contact lens which can magnify 2.8 times was announced in 2013. The scientists have been fine-tuning the lens membranes and developing accessories to make the eyewear smarter and comfortable for longer periods of time thus making it more usable every day.
The lenses work with the incorporation of a very thin reflective telescope inside a 1.55 mm thick lens. Small mirrors within bounce light around expands the perceived size of objects and magnifies the view which is in a way is like looking through low magnification binoculars. During this time, rigid lens known as a scleral lens are used to make the telescopic contacts. Scleral lens are larger in diameter than the typical soft contact lenses, safe and comfortable for special applications.
The final lenses are made from several precision cut and carefully assembled pieces of plastics, aluminum mirrors and polarizing thin films along with biologically safe glues. Human eye requires steady supply of oxygen which according to researchers is a critical requirement. Researchers have incorporated tiny air channels 0.1 mm wide within the lens to allow oxygen to reach the cornea to achieve the required oxygen permeability.
A small light source and light detector is required by the electronic glasses paired with lenses to recognize the winks and ignore blinks. The wearer will need to wink the right eye for magnification while left eye for normal vision. The switch is functionality crucial for the lenses to be used widely for non-AMD sufferers who will be able to magnify on demand.
The prototype of the lens was unveiled at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) in San Jose, California.
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