Telescopic Contact Lens Revealed, Could Be Huge Breakthrough For Macular Degeneration Treatment

A team of international researchers have created the world’s first telescopic contact lens. The new lens gives wearers the ability to see three times normal human distances. Essentially, researchers have created the wearable bionic eye that sci-fi geeks have been waiting for.

The telescopic contact lens uses two very distinct regions. The center of the lens allows light to pass straight through, thus providing normal vision. The outside edge, however, acts as a telescopic lens which can magnify human sight by 2.8 times normal viewing. Researchers says the lens is the equivalent of looking through a 100mm lens on a DSLR.

The 1.17mm-thick telescopic contact lens was created by Joseph Ford of UCSD and Eric Tremblay of EPFL.

According to Extreme Tech, this is how the process works:

“The light that will be magnified enters the edge of the contact lens, is bounced around four times inside the lens using patterned aluminium mirrors, and then beamed to the edge of the retina at the back of your eyeball. The mirrors magnify the image 2.8 times, but also correct for chromatic aberration, resulting in a surprisingly high fidelity image. To switch between normal and telescopic vision, the central (normal, unmagnified) region of the contact lens has a polarizing filter in front of it — and then the wearer equips a pair of 3D TV spectacles. By switching the polarizing state of the spectacles (a pair of active, liquid crystal Samsung 3D specs in this case), the user can choose between normal and magnified vision.The main breakthrough is that this telescopic contact lens is just 1.17mm thick, allowing it to be comfortably worn. Other attempts at granting telescopic vision have included: a 4.4mm-thick contact lens (too thick for real-world use), telescopic spectacles (cumbersome and ugly), and most recently a telescopic lens implanted into the eye itself. The latter is currently the best option currently available, but it requires surgery and the image quality isn’t excellent.”

Here is a diagram of the process for our more visual readers:

Telescopic Contact Lens

Before you decide to run out and develop Superman type vision, the telescopic contact lens is being specifically developed for people with age-related macular degeneration. AMD is responsible for damaging the high-resolution fovea at the center of the retina, but generally the low-resolution outer region (perifovea) still works as it always has in a person with healthy eyesight.

Do you think telescopic contact lenses are the future of eyewear?