New Bionic Contact Lenses Could Render Eyeglasses Obsolete

If you have poor vision, you have reason to be joyful about the news that bionic lenses could soon enter the market. The Ocumetics Bionic Lens is invested by a Canadian optometrist. It promises to improve eyesight to a level that’s better than 20/20 by 300%.

However, these aren’t traditional contact lenses which you pop in and out – the lenses are inserted into the eyes through a painless procedure that takes less than 10 minutes and resembles a cataract surgery, according to Gareth Webb, the developer of the revolutionary product.

The bionic lenses do not degrade over time, which means you wouldn’t have to worry about developing cataracts or failing vision regardless of how long you live.

A patented miniature optics system is employed by the Ocumetics Bionic Lens. This system works like a small digital camera which is powered by your own body.

It can change focus from objects that are close in range to objects situated any distance away much quicker than what the human eye can.

Such an innovative technology isn’t created in a day, of course. Researchers spent eight years to complete the product, and more than $3 million has been shelled out for its development.

Gareth Webb shared with CBC News that these bionic lenses will enhance people’s vision as the world has never seen before. He adds that if you can barely read the clock from 10 feet away, you can see see it at 30 feet if you get the Bionic Lens.

Ocumetics Technology Corp says that the technology is safe and durable. The lenses that are implanted feel natural and wouldn’t lead to headaches or any form of eyestrain. If you’re interested with this new technology, you still have to wait quite a bit.

The launch of the product has been set tentatively sometime in 2017. Further clinical trials must be completed before the product is released.

For Webb, this invention is something close to his own heart. He shares that at 45 years old, he had to endure all the hassles associated with reading glasses, which he found as an insult. He adds that he curses his progressive eyeglasses to this day. Webb does pretty much the same with his contact lenses. Cowboys were his heroes, and cowboys never wore glasses.

If the Ocumetic Bionic Lens hits the market, a wide range of eyesight issues could be overcome. Of course, there’s the obvious advantage that people who choose to get these lenses would never have to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses again. Researchers are set to conduct clinical trials on animals and blind people.

Aside from working on the development of the bionic lenses, Gareth Webb has also set up a foundation known as the Celebration of Sight, which is dedicated to helping various organisations in developing countries that offer eye surgery. Funds have also been set aside for eye research institutes in different parts of the world.

US researchers have developed a screen technology which employs algorithms that alter an image according to a person’s prescription glasses. This works with a clear plastic light filter which has thousands of small holes. The filter is attached to the front of a display as a computer screen. It can be adjusted to provide users with sharper and more vivid images.

According to Rachel Metz of MIT Technology Review, the algorithm changes the light from each pixel so when it is fed through the tiny holes in the clear plastic filter, the rays of light will reach the retina in a manner that re-creates a sharp image.

The main idea is to anticipate your eyes’ natural way of distorting whatever appears onscreen – which is typically what glasses or contact lenses correct – and adjust the image beforehand to enable you to see clearly.

Metz adds that the team which is led by Brian A. Barsky, a computer scientist from the University of California, altered images of hot-air balloons with rainbow colors and the details of a portrait of Vincent Van Gogh according to a wide range of varying eye conditions including near and far-sightedness. The altered images were displayed on the screen of an iPod Touch with a plastic light filter attached and viewed by users with different eye conditions.

A similar technology has been developed before, but Barsky and his team were able to create sharper images with higher contrast than any kind of technology in the past.

At the International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, Barsky’s team will present their research paper. They will then work on creating a prototype which people can test out in real world settings using different types of display screens. The prototype is expected to be ready within a few years.

If various symptoms manifest at the ages of 40 or 50 including as eye strain, inability to see in the dark or problem focusing in on the fine print, then you’re probably suffering presbyopia, an eye condition that over 1 billion the world over struggles with on a daily basis.

Right now, the only option to treat the condition is laser surgery. However, this isn’t the best solution because you still have to wear glasses to be able to read in setting with a dim light.

In addition, the very reason why lasers work can also be the reason why you might develop the eye condition again. Laser surgery removes part of the cornea to allow it to reshape, but the cornea may flatten again over time.

The good news is that US and UK researchers were able to come up with a better solution, which they call the Raindrop.

The Raindrop is a tiny implant created from the hydrogel, a water-based substance from which contact lenses are made. Its size is about the same as a pinhead.

It is inserted inside the cornea, and it works by increasing its curvature slightly and permanently to boost its focus. The very first implantations of the Raindrop have been completed out in an eye clinic in Warwickshire, England.

Lynda Marenghi was the first person to benefit from a Raindrop implant. She’s a 57 year old bursar at a British school. Lynda was diagnosed with presbyopia and almost lost her sight.

She says that the eye condition is related to her age, and it entailed wearing glasses more often which proved to be a struggle, especially as a school bursar which required plenty of close work and analyzing spreadsheets on computer screens.

After getting her Raindrop implants, which took a mere 10 minutes, she hasn’t used her reading glasses again. Lynda emphasises that the experience has been life-changing.

Sarah Knapton told the Telegraph that the procedure is virtually painless:

Anesthetic droplets are inserted to allow the patient to stay conscious during the procedure. This is so the inlay can be placed into a flap in the cornea, the clear part found at the front of the eye.

Near and medium vision can be improved by the inlay, as it adjusts the curvature of the cornea to make the central section steeper. The cost of the procedure amounts to £2,495. As of the moment, it is not available of the National Health Service.

Mark Wevill, an eye surgeon at the Leamington Spa-where the procedure was carried out-said that the Raindrop doesn’t stop eyes from ageing. It works by correcting the deterioration in eyesight which is a natural result of the ageing process.

The Raindrop can be considered the perfect long-term solution for individuals with ageing eyes and those who need reading glasses just to read a book or see what’s on a computer screen.

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