Telescoping Contact Lenses: Magnify Anything with a Glance

Designed more for correcting degenerative eye conditions rather than spying, University of California’s Joseph Ford leads a team in developing a new telescoping design for contacts that allows the user to magnify images by almost 3 times.

Regular contact lenses are great for overcoming vision-focusing problems resulting from misshapen eyes (nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism), but they don’t correct problems on the receiving end. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) disease deteriorates the center of the retina, which is the high resolution part of the eye that is used to discern fine details. A common solution to this condition is to use bulky bioptic telescoping contraptions that attach to the viewers glasses. The  innovative and non-invasive telescoping contact on the other hand would allow those with AMD to easily and discreetly refocus the light to the rest of the undamaged retina.

The telescoping design features small concave and convex mirrors that allow the the eye to magnify anything by directing your gaze. In the center of the contact is a normal unmagnified lens, while the outer rim does the magnification. Combine with 3D liquid crystal glasses (commercially sold for 3D televisions) and polarization films to electrically switch between normal and magnified vision.

While the magnification is a success, two issues are still being worked out: the magnified image clarity and the comfort of the contact on the eye. Right now the telescopic contact lens is made out of polymer that doesn’t let oxygen through, making it uncomfortable. The team is eagerly pursuing further development and testing to refine a contact that will not only extend our vision, but provide more freedom and comfort to those previously immobilized by their declining eyesight.

Keara Wright

Aspiring creative author and astrophysicist, with degrees in Physics, Mathematics, and Psychology.

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