Future of optics: Advancements in contact lenses & spectacle lenses
Looking at the last couple of years, a lot has happened in the world of contact lenses and spectacle lenses. With advancement in technology and material, many new options have been approved and launched. Glasses and contact lens technologies are slowing down myopia, treating and tracking medical conditions, and changing the visible world.
Let’s take a look at a few of such recent developments and what we can look forward to in the future.
Advancements in contact lenses
Contact lenses are no longer worn just to boost vision. New smarter lenses can perform various functions like delivering medicines to projecting a digital display in the eyes. While all these developments are new, some of them are yet to be tested against time, until fully developed for off the counter dispensing. Listed below are the newest development in contact lens technology for disease detection, drug delivery and vision enhancement:
Contact lenses for controlling myopia progression in children
Cases of childhood myopia are on the rise world over, including India. Though single vision lenses have been successfully used to restore far vision, they can’t stall the progression on myopia. Fortunately with advancements in smarter lenses now there are high-tech contact lenses available which go beyond correcting vision. MiSight lenses are the first FDA-approved contact lenses for controlling myopia progression in children.
A light-adaptive lens
In another win for optometry, the U.S. Food and Drug administration gave its approval to contact lens that darken automatically in sunlight to reduce glare and increase comfort. Johnson & Johnson’s Acuvue Oasys contains a photochromic additive that automatically darkens the lens when exposed to bright sunlight and returns to regular tint under regular or darker conditions.
Lenses for administering eye drops
One of the most common methods of treating many ocular diseases is through eye drops. Though effective, the delivery of this treatment is riddled with multiple issues like quick evaporation, tear dilution and non-specific absorption. Providing a unique solution to these problems are drug-releasing contact lenses which are currently being developed and will offer relief to people who suffer from diseases such as microbial infections, dry eye, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Johnson & Johnson has developed a disposable lens that is preloaded with a medicine that helps with itchy eyes. This is especially helpful for people who wear contact lenses and have to remove them to administer drops.
Lens for monitoring glaucoma
There are contact lenses available now with sensors which could help identify patients at risk of progressing to severe glaucoma. The Triggerfish lens by SensiMed consists of a silicone contact lens with an embedded strain gauge to measure changes in the corneal radius of curvature as it fluctuates with pressure within the eye.
Augmented reality lens
Mojo Vision is developing a smart contact lens with a built-in visual display meant to magnify images for people with low vision. The lens can even project content from a smartphone. The lens, when fully developed will provide an “Invisible Computing” experience, allowing the user to receive information instantaneously, unobtrusively and without using their hands.
Smart contact lenses which zoom in and out
A team of researchers from the University of California San Diego have developed a prototype of biomimetic soft contact lenses that can zoom in and out with the blink of an eye. The lens uses the electro oculographic signals generated when the eyes move and changes its focal length depending on the signal generated. Still under development, researchers hope to use this tech to create adjustable glasses and other visual prostheses.
Advancements in spectacle lenses
Spectacle lenses have evolved vastly from the initial glass reading stone of the 10th century. Here are technological innovations that made big leaps in recent times which you need to know about:
Prescription 3D glasses
Wearing 3D glasses over your own prescription glasses while watching a film can be cumbersome and frankly downright annoying! Thanks to technological innovations in the eyewear industry you no longer need to do that. Prescription 3D glasses are customized to your prescription with lenses that enable a person to see programmes and films in 3D. You will soon find these at our outlets.
Still in the prototype phase and under development at MIT and Stanford are self-focusing lenses : new lenses that will focus automatically and allow the user to see correctly from any distance. Researchers hope that this innovation will be helpful to people with age related trouble focusing on nearby objects.
Advances in freeform technology for greater accuracy
New advancements in spectacle lens manufacturing have made possible new high-definition spectacle lenses that correct high-order aberrations, with the potential to give you better vision than ever before achieved with normal eye glasses. Called the free-form lens, these lenses are manufactured using the free-form technology which allows the production of complex surfaces and designs with extreme precision.
Defocus Incorporated Multiple Segments (DIMS)
The fast growing incidence of myopia amongst children has been the bane of existence for optometrist and ophthalmologists everywhere. With new-tech lenses addressing this vision issue, researchers hope to slow down and alter the course of this ocular problem with Defocus Incorporated Multiple Segments (DIMS). DIMS are speciality spectacle lenses which incorporate small, multiple segment mini lenses within the peripheral vision portion of eyeglasses to redirect incoming light and have proven to significantly slow down the progression of myopia amongst youngsters.
Conclusion-Don’t be left behind
Change in consumer behaviour and preferences has made continuous technological developments in concepts surrounding contact and spectacle lenses mandatory. It is no longer just about the ability to see, but comfort, design, looks and betterment that are important considerations as well. With rapid evolution of disruptive technology, it’s in optometrists’ best interest to stay up to date so they can best serve the needs of their patients.