Contact lenses help people see everything clearly without wearing any spectacle. Now, researchers are trying to take the characteristics of contact lenses one more step ahead. Lately, researchers from San Diego and Switzerland have created a prototype contact lens and glasses system that can zoom in on something up to 2.8x magnification. The lenses do the zooming, while the glasses let people switch between normal and magnified vision.
The lens-glasses combination is designed to help restore the sight of people suffering from age-related macular degeneration, or blindness. The contact lenses are 8 mm in diameter, 1 mm thick in the middle of the lens and 1.17 mm thick in a magnifying ring around the edge. Small aluminium mirrors are fitted into this magnifying ring. These mirrors bounce the light from objects in front of the wearer approximately four times within this ring before sending the image to the retina. By the time, this image hits the retina it appears magnified by 2.8 times of a normal human eye.
When the lenses are being worn in ‘ordinary mode’ this magnified image is blocked by polarising filters fitted to a pair of modified Samsung 3D glasses. To switch to ‘telescopic mode’, the wearer can change these filters so that the only light that hits their retina is the light created by the magnified process.
The lenses have tiny channels along the surface that let in oxygen and make the lenses ‘breathable’. This means the lenses can be worn for long periods of time.
The researchers have planned to start a clinical trial in November. The U.S.’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has funded the research. The research has been published in the journal Optics Express.