How do smart contact lenses work?
Smart contact lenses work by featuring micro versions of tools. This will enable a lens that can not only enhance eyesight but also dramatically change vision in a way that will be life-changing for the wearer.
Which companies are working on smart contact lenses?
Companies which are currently researching and developing smart contact lenses include:
- Swiss Federal Institute of technology in Lausanne
- Columbia University Medical Centre
- University of Michigan
What can smart contact lenses do?
Scientists are currently developing and experimenting with smart lenses and their potential to treat eye diseases and more. From monitoring eye health with lenses that deliver drugs to the eyes, to lenses that will incorporate augmented reality. Whilst these futuristic lenses aren't yet available for consumer use, some are already in the process of being tested in clinical trials. Here are the latest innovations in contact lens technology.
Telescopic contact lenses
Telescopic contact lenses are currently in development by researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.
These high-tech lenses will allow wearers to have objects appear 2.8 times larger than they actually are. The wearer will need to wink with one eye which will cause their vision to 'zoom in' similarly to a camera.
The telescopic contact lens is designed with miniature aluminium mirrors which are arranged around the centre in a ring. They work with a polarising filter to bounce light around, magnifying objects and expanding the size of objects.
These telescopic lenses are believed to be especially beneficial for those with macular degeneration.
Contact lens camera
Following the Google Glass high-tech specs, Google is now in the process of developing a contact lens which acts as a camera when you blink.
These lenses have the potential to help the blind across the road and navigate their everyday surroundings. It aims to do this by taking pictures and sending signals to the wearer's smartphone to warn them of a busy road etc.
Nanowafer contact lenses
Nanowafer contact lenses are super thin lenses that can deliver glaucoma medicine to the eye over long periods of time.
Developed by researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine in Dallas, these high-tech contact lenses are designed to dissolve slowly, releasing small doses of drugs into the eye as they do. This eliminates the necessity to use eye drops and offers a more effective way of delivering medicine to the eye in steady doses.
3D-printed contact lenses
3D printers are on the rise and can print almost anything. Nevertheless, when it comes to manufacturing contact lenses, precision is key as contact lenses require exact specifications and are crafted from delicate materials.
Tech companies have struggled to create a printer safe enough for producing contact lenses, however, the Dutch company Luxexcel are working on this process and believe that technology has the potential to do this.
Augmented reality contact lenses
The tech company Innovega are currently looking at creating contact lenses which incorporate augmented reality. Their iOptik system is a device which takes the form of a contact lens and will be able to display the same features as a smartphone, including satellite navigation, social media and video chat.
Samsung is also looking at developing smart contact lenses that will give you the ability to control your smartphone remotely. These lenses will feature motion sensors that will allow the wearer to control devices by using peripheral vision and blinking.
Glucose monitoring contact lenses
It is essential for those who are diabetic to constantly monitor their blood sugar levels, however, the process of drawing blood every day in order to do this is an inconvenient one.
Scientists at Google are currently working on smart contact lenses to eliminate the disruptive process of drawing blood every day. The smart lens will contain a small chip and glucose sensor in order to track glucose levels without drawing blood.
Whilst the device is not currently ready for clinical trials, it's potential to monitor blood glucose levels could be life-changing for diabetics.
Wound healing contact lenses
Scientists in Australia are currently in the process of developing contact lenses that may have the ability to heal corneal ulcers.
The lens works by featuring corneal cells left over from a corneal transplant. These cells will release healing elements that soothe corneal ulcers.
Scientists believe that these lenses will be a more efficient way or treating corneal ulcers than treatments currently available.
Aside from treating eye diseases, healing wounds and providing a thrill for technology lovers, these high-tech lenses can also enhance military operations and more.