9/16/15 Researchers from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have developed contact lenses that have micro-sized telescopic lenses built in to boost vision. They are controlled by smart glasses and react to the winking of the eye, which allows the wearer to zoom in on objects with a magnification up to 2.8 times that of an unaided human eye.
This prototype contact lens is just 1.55mm thick and has a two part magnifying region which is turned on and off when a person blinks. It is programmed to differentiate between a longer deliberate wink and a normal wink of the eye. The glasses that accompany the lenses let the wearer wink with the right eye to zoom in and wink with the left eye to zoom back out.
Unlike traditional contact lenses, these lenses are made from a more rigid, larger sclera lens from a number of precision machined plastic components, micro aluminum mirrors and thin polarizing films all held together with biologically safe adhesives. There are also miniscule air channels 0.1mm across the structure of the lens to allow for adequate oxygen flow.
These lenses were originally designed by the Pentagon’s research arm DARPA to enhance future soldiers vision capabilities in the field. In EPFL’s latest form the hope is they can become a visual aid for people who suffer from age-related macular degeneration (AMD). People over the age of 55 can develop AMD which leads to loss of sight in the center of the eye.