Google’s patented contact lens that can measure blood sugar levels in tears created a terrific buzz across the world. It’s almost being signed off as a fantastic non-invasive method for diabetics to keep a tab on their health. And now, researchers in Switzerland have taken the contact lens-syndrome (if I may call it so!) to a new level.
A set of Swiss researchers have created a prototype of contact lens that allows the wearer to zoom in to view enlarged images – and all with a wink! Unveiled a month ago at the meeting of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), California, the scientists explained that this lens includes tiny aluminum telescopes that allow the wearer to zoom into distant objects, achieving up to 2.8X magnification. They are to be worn with a set of smart glasses that control the zooming in/out process. When you wink your right eye, the image is magnified and when you wink the left eye, the vision returns to normal.
Zooming in for 285 million people
WHO estimates state that there are 285 million visually impaired people worldwide. Among these, 246 million suffer from low vision and about 90% of them reside in countries where ophthalmology treatment is beyond their economic scope. This zoom-in lens is a relatively less expensive and non-invasive solution, especially for those suffering from age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Shades in the eye – from Johnson & Johnson
While Google has garnered massive publicity with its blood sugar testing contact lens, Johnson & Johnson is another big player that has filed multiple patents in recent times. One of its patents, US 8877103, describes a technology that protects the eye from harmful radiation and exposure to excessive sunlight. These lens work like photochromic spectacles and darken when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. The patent describes a technology that includes a photoinitiator to absorb a fixed wavelength and a thermochromic compound that allows wavelength absorption to vary depending upon the temperature.
Another patent by Johnson & Johnson addresses lens counterfeiting concerns by electronically generating and transmitting unique identifier for every contact lens (US20140340631). Nano-antennae are incorporated in the lens and are correlated with a unique code and miniature battery to energize the system. The Lens Pedigree Profile can include lens design information useful to verify the authenticity of the ophthalmic lens or identify any deficiencies that might have crept in during the manufacturing process.
Contact lenses are no longer fixed to aesthetics and cosmetics; their medical potential is being realized by all and sundry. With ample funds pumped into research, smart contact lens are on their way to getting even smarter!
(Featured image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Castle_using_eye_for_wide_angle_lens.jpg)