A Look Into the Future: Upcoming Eye-Tech and Advances in Eye Health

Eye care has come a long way since the first pair of glasses appeared in Italy in 1285. From polarized lenses to colored contacts, these advances in technology have literally revolutionized the way we see the world.

But we’re not done yet.

New advances in eye technology are on the horizon. While the following gear isn’t yet available to the market, here’s a quick peek at the future of eye health.

Augmented Reality

Google Glass gave us a glimpse into the futuristic possibilities of eye technology. These gadgets enable users to access online information such as email applications, weather data, and maps via wearable glasses. You can activate many of the features through voice commands or through the touchpad located on the side of the glasses.

Google Glass is laying the groundwork for advances in augmented reality. LED contacts and glasses will eventually be able to superimpose information on the real world. This could enable you to view GPS navigation without taking your eyes off the road. Or you could completely immerse yourself in an HD movie while you take the bus to work.

According to Stephen Willey, CEO at Innovega,”Whatever runs on your smartphone would run on your eyewear.”

Adjustable Displays

While glasses and contacts have a lot to offer, what if you could say goodbye to reading glasses altogether?

Researchers at the University of California are developing a prototype that adjusts an image on your TV or laptop screen. The self-adjusting display uses prescription-based algorithms to anticipate how your eyes naturally distort images. The screen will then control individual light rays that emanate from the display to compensate for the distortion, creating a sharper image.

Brian A. Barsky is a computer science professor at UC Berkeley who coauthored a paper on the technology. He asserted that it would help correct more serious conditions that glasses and contacts can’t correct.

Bionic Eyes for the Blind

In addition to technology that corrects poor vision, researchers are well on their way to devising solutions for those born blind.

Israeli scientists are developing bionic eyes consisting of a tiny camera that collects visual data. The camera then conveys signals to a bionic lens, which passes the signals to the cornea. From there, the cornea sends the information to sensory areas in the brain, essentially simulating visual information. Though the bionic lens stimulates the nerves in the cornea, the device itself is non-invasive.

While the technology has yet to receive approval for clinical trials, researchers are testing the model on individuals who can already see.

Micro-Needles

Of course, bionic eyes have a long way to go before they adequately replace the human eye. Until then, we want to keep the eyes we have in the healthiest condition possible.

Researchers are currently developing micro-needles painlessly treat glaucoma and other eye diseases. These needles are between .4 and .7 millimeters long, and they administer medication into the front of the eye, where it’s needed the most.

With these small needles, doctors could inject time-release drugs every 3 to 6 months, essentially replacing daily glaucoma eye drops. Better still, the medication stays precisely where it needs to be, rather than traveling to other places in the eye and causing complications.

And if patients are uncomfortable with the needles despite the small size, doctors could coat the needle with an anesthetic to make the procedure near-painless.

3D Sculpting

Eye technology does more than help those with poor or limited vision; it also helps the disabled express themselves.

Some disabilities impact dexterity and motor control, making touchscreen interaction a challenge. But with SHIVA, disabled students can use the latest in eye technology to sculpt 3D objects with their eyes.

SHIVA is short for Sculpture for Health-Care: Interaction and Virtual Art in 3D. It uses eye-tracking hardware so the user can select menu options just by focusing their eyes on the screen. Then, by selecting a number of pre-defined objects, the user can modify and rotate the object to create more complex shapes. When satisfied, the user can then print the finished sculpture via a 3D printer.

Alexander Pasko, a professor at the National Centre for Computer Animation, was part SHIVA’s development team. He said this software can “help someone create something independently.” This creates pride in what students have created and builds self-esteem. “That’s going to make them feel better and have fun.”

What Else Does the Future Hold?

These are but a few advances in eye care and eye technology. The future holds mind-blowing advances to ensure eyes stay healthy and function better than ever.

Until these gadgets are available to the public, however, it’s important you keep your eyes in good health now. Don’t forget to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to ensure your eyes will be able to see these advances in the near future.