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  • Ritaban Mitra

Smart Contact lenses that you can control with the blink of an eye.

Updated: Apr 13, 2020

Ever wished that you didn't have to depend on your spectacles or cameras to see something?

If your answer was yes, you are in luck as scientists from the University of California, (UC San Diego) have been working on an engineering solution, more specifically a contact lens that would automatically change its focal length to adjust to the person's eye sight and would be controlled by simple eye movements.

How can this be useful?

The Scientists working on the project said that the purpose of the solution was for assisting in the spheres of "visual prostheses, adjustable glasses, and remotely operated robotics in the future."

  • A visual prosthesis, often referred to as a bionic eye, is an experimental visual device intended to restore functional vision in those suffering from partial or total blindness.This means that people suffering from visual impairment could benefit from this solution.

  • Another use case is for people who currently use glasses. They would not have to keep getting new spectacles every few months or go for frequent check-ups as the lens itself is auto adjusting.

  • A third possible use case is highly specialised in nature as it would require skilled workers to control and monitor automation processes remotely, meaning they could work from far away while keeping track of progress made by the robots in the factory.

Ok, this sounds good but how does it work?

Essentially there exists an electric potential between the front and the back of the human eye called an electrooculogram, which are useful for ophthalmologists (also read as eye doctors) in diagnosis of eye related medical issues and are also used for recording eye movements.

The person would be wearing the contact lens would have to perform eye movements - looking up, down, left, right, blink, double blink and the lens would sense the changes in electric potential and adjust the focal length accordingly, in turn affecting the vision. The study claims that because of the soft materials used in the lens, relative changes in the focal length can be as large as 32 percent.

To give an idea of just how powerful the lens would be here are two samples shared by the scientists to demonstrate the effect:

Normal view when eye is relaxed.

Magnified view on blinking twice.

Sounds great, where can i get one of these?

Unfortunately, this technology is still in its infancy stages. As of now, the prototype lens is only able to work as part of a larger setup that isn't nearly small enough to simulate that of a human eye. There's still a lot of work and enhancements to be made to such a specialised lens before this could ever become widely available.

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