What is it? A real contact lens that can switch between magnifying an image and standard vision. it could be useful for both military personnel and patients with retinal diseases.
We built a telescope into a contact lens. It is similar to a hard contact lens, but embedded inside are four tiny aluminum mirrors. These mirrors magnify the light, like a telescope, making images appear 2.8 times bigger.
You can switch between magnified and normal vision by wearing modified 3-D television glasses. A button on the glasses changes their polarization. And polarized filters on the contact lenses determine whether the light passes through their magnifying part or their non-magnifying part.
DARPA, a funder of our research, is interested in super vision. But the lenses may also work for people with macular degeneration, a disease that degrades the central part of the retina. Magnification makes it easier for those people to decipher small things, like text, with the healthy areas of their eyes.
The lenses are about 10 times the thickness of normal contacts. We're planning a clinical trial at the end of the year to see if they're comfortable. I'll volunteer if I can. I really want to see what they're like.
Eric Tremblay is a researcher at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.
This article originally appeared in the October 2013 issue of Popular Science.
Wow, this technology is of the sciencefiction world of James Bond 007!
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I refuse to be excited about this until I get my X-Ray Specs that were promised in the back of issue 27 of Richie Rich comics.
I guess I don't get it- I'm wearing contact lenses that I need to wear glasses with to use? How about I just wear the glasses and skip the part where I place lenses that are "10 times the thickness" of normal contacts? Maybe someone can just invent glasses with a similar telescopic function.
This is an excellent beginning! As for Narq's comment... you know of some glasses you can wear that act as 3X telescopes??? Too 'sciency' for ya I guess. ;-P
Sorry but I'm not seeing this. Firstly - "10 times as thick" - just twice as thick puts a lot of people off using contacts - the reason I've avoided them was because I could never seem to get the thin-ness of the contacts I got on trial - I would not consider damaging my eyes by using something that thick.
Secondly - this is just plain stupid unless I'm missing something - why not just make magnifying glasses and do away with having to damage your eyes?