Wearable Telescopes Have Arrived: All the Closer to See You With, My Dear

Telescope in eye

Telescopes were once mostly in the domain of pirates and stargazers, but new technology using tiny telescopes is helping thousands of patients who struggle with AMD (age-related macular degeneration). It’s potential as a super spy tool has yet to be imagined, at least as far as we know.

In Sweden, researchers have developed blink-on, blink-off contact lenses to help eyes focus. They released this research paper and slideshow. When these new inventions are added to the growing list of advanced wearable eye technology, it’s easy to see that we are living in a golden age of optometric technology.

In Florida, a neuro-ophthalmology and orbital surgeon has been implanting telescopes directly into people’s eyes to help them see more clearly. This image from the research paper illustrates the degree of magnification:

According to the research paper, the contacts can zoom in with just a blink. When you’re ready to zoom back out, you can simply blink the other eye. Special electronic glasses worn with the contacts make it all work by focusing light onto the telescopic section of the contact when you blink.

For the light to be magnified, light entering the telescope lenses is bounced around four times using tiny aluminum mirrors, and then beamed to the back of the eye. The object you’re looking at would be magnified 2.8 times, and the lenses also correct for chromatic aberration.

This invention is the creation of Eric Tremblay and his team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Luasanne. The first version of the contacts was introduced in 2013, but the lenses were not gas permeable. Now they are, due to small air channels to the underside of the lens. The prototypes are ready for human trials, the researchers said at the conference.

Tiny Telescopic Implants

The Florida doctor, Mark Levy, has reportedly performed his telescope-insertion operation 13 times since 2002, and he told a local newspaper that the hour-long surgery improves vision by up to seven lines on the chart.

The surgery involves removing the lens that has become clouded by AMD and then replacing it with a miniature telescope. The FDA-approved treatment is allowed for people ages 65 and older. Other recent advancements in wearable eye technology include Google’s lenses that can purportedly monitor the wearer’s blood glucose levels and then transmit that information wirelessly. In addition, the University of Michigan has announced contact lenses that can give users night vision.

At ManagementPlus, we are astounded by this technological progress and thrilled to see what comes next. In our lifetimes, we’ve moved from an age of vision correction using only glasses to one in which laser surgery and contacts are widely available. Now, these new contacts can do everything short of granting actual superpowers (even for people suffering with AMD).

Have you had experience with any of these new technologies? What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Image credits for contacts: E. Tremblay, I. Stamenov, R. Beer, A. Arianpour, and J. Ford, “Switchable telescopic contact lens,” Opt. Express 21, 15980-15986 (2013).
Image credit for surgery: Sarasota Memorial Health Care System

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