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Researchers Develop Telescopic Contact Lenses
Researchers Develop Telescopic Contact Lenses

By Barry Levine
July 2, 2013 1:45PM

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Built with concentric regions, the contact lens' central region allows light to pass through as it would normally, for standard vision. The regions around the central area sit in a ring, and are designed for telescopic magnification. Very small aluminum mirrors reflect light four times inside the ring's magnifying elements, before directing it, as a larger image, to the wearer's retina.
 

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Superman, the competition for your magnifying vision has started. Researchers have developed a prototype pair of contact lenses that allow switching between normal vision and up to 2.8x telescopic magnification.

The American and Swiss researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) and the University of California at San Diego have developed the lenses, slightly more than a millimeter in depth, primarily for people with age-related macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration, the No. 1 cause of vision loss for those aged 60+, affects the macula in the eye, which processes fine detail. Degeneration of that area means a loss in the ability to conduct tasks that require details, such as driving or reading. The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which funded the research, also has in mind enhanced vision-on-demand for military personnel. The research has been described in a paper published in the journal Optics Express.

Samsung 3D Glasses

Built with concentric regions, the contact lens' central region allows light to pass through as it would normally, for standard vision. The regions around the central area sit in a ring, and are designed for telescopic magnification. Very small aluminum mirrors are designed to reflect light four times inside the ring's magnifying elements, before directing it, as a larger image, to the wearer's retina.

A liquid crystal shutter controls the switch between the two kinds of lenses. When the shutter is on, light travels normally through the central region, but, when the filter is off, light bounces through the mirrors and the magnifying regions and then into the eye.

In this prototype stage, the LCD shutter effect was obtained in a modified set of 3D TV glasses from Samsung, which uses polarizing filters to block light in the right and left eyes alternatingly in order to create a 3D effect. The contact lens version has been tested on an optomechanical model of the eye, but, at the moment, the glasses version is currently being used for human testing. The researchers plan to integrate the LCD technology directly into contact lenses at some point.

'Breathable' Contact Lenses

Team co-leader Dr. Eric Tremblay of the EPFL in Switzerland told the BBC that "the most difficult part of the project was making the contact lens breathable." He added that, if the contact lenses are used for more than half an hour, it has to be "breathable," meaning that oxygen needs to be able to get through the lens in order to supply the wearer's eye.

To solve this problem, the researchers added very small channels in the lenses, through which oxygen could travel. The tradeoff was that it has made the lenses more difficult to manufacture.

Another issue is that the sharpness of the image is not at the level the team expected, but they expect to improve that by improving the refractive optics. Clinical trials are scheduled to begin in November.
 

Tell Us What You Think
Comment:

Name:

Richard Roberts:

Posted: 2013-07-12 @ 12:48pm PT
Cool....

Dawn Roberts:

Posted: 2013-07-12 @ 12:45pm PT
This sounds cool but I don't see it being legal for very long.

jwalters:

Posted: 2013-07-10 @ 10:29pm PT
What an interesting article I found "Researchers Develop Telescopic Contact Lenses" by Barry Levine.

This latest invention is a new breathable contact lens that can be worn for long periods of time. This is due to small holes in the lens allowing oxygen to the eye. The lens was invented with elderly people in mind with degenerative vision loss. The lenses will help elderly adults when driving a car and reading a book. The contact can be used as a regular strength contact to a telescopic magnifier. What a concept!!

These contacts could also be a big help to our troops when engaging in combat. They may help to save lives.
I would be interested in trying on a pair of these contacts or the glasses, which are the first to be tested by humans.



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