A very serious condition that affects our eyesight as we grow older is age-related macular degeneration, more commonly known as AMD. This condition affects the macula, which forms a tiny part of our eyes’ retinas. Basically, the macula is the part that’s responsible for our central vision – it’s what allows us to focus on the bull’s-eye on a dartboard or to thread a needle. People with AMD usually experience dark areas, blurriness, or distortion in their central vision. This condition is one of the leading causes of blindness all over the world with very limited options for treatment until now.
Because magnifying a person’s vision is a proven method to counter the effects of AMD, scientists are developing smart contact lenses embedded with tiny mirrors and filters which enhance and magnify vision up to three times. The lenses are designed to allow more light into the eye, improving the eyesight of those with AMD.
The lenses also come with a key innovation. Combined with a special pair of battery-powered glasses, the user also has the ability to switch between standard vision and normal vision on demand. The glasses make use of a type of LCD technology that tracks eye movement, allowing users to zoom in and out as they please through a simple wink. This feature is necessary to make the smart lens and glasses combination more suitable for daily life, as users will still be able to make use of their peripheral vision which is rendered useless with magnification. With this users will be able to do daily activities, such as safely crossing streets, as they’ll be able to see oncoming cars through their peripheral vision, and then zoom in on the indicator on a pedestrian stoplight.
The smart lenses are currently in the trial stage, with a handful of people trying them out mainly to see if the lenses are comfortable to wear. The majority of the tests are conducted in a lab using a model chemical eye.