England 12/08/2013 – For years, optometrists have been searching for a better way to help people who are suffering from macular degeneration, and it looks like a French lab has found the answer.
The École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne recently announced that they had perfected telescopic contact lenses. The contacts can magnify the wearer’s vision by up to 2.8 times, and importantly can do so at the wearer’s behest.
It is hoped that, in the future, people who are suffering from macular degeneration,, who currently have to bear telescopic glasses will wear the lenses. The glasses most people with macular degeneration wear now do improve vision, but they are quite cumbersome and difficult to operate. Many wearers find that they interfere with social interaction and that the field of vision they get is too small to be useful in most day-to-day situations. The fact that the head has to be turned to look straight on at an object also means that telescopic glasses are not practical for most wearers.
The contact lenses are still at an early stage of developemnt, and have only been tested on a mechanical eye. At the moment, there are still problems with contrast and image quality. However, the team at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne believe that they have already identified a solution for both issues. They are currently working in conjunction with Paragon Vision Sciences to solve the issues.
Even people with healthy eyes may want to wear these contacts
Whilst the main group to benefit from telescopic contact lenses is likely to be those suffering from macular degeneration there will be other groups that will benefit. The inventors anticipate that even people with perfectly healthy eyes will also want to wear the contacts to enhance their vision in certain situations.
It is hard to determine when these contacts will become available, but many believe that it will be several years before they are availablethrough opticians such as Tesco Opticians. Few doubt, that once they are released to market that sales will be strong from the very start. Macular degeneration is the most common eye disease in older adults and many people with healthy vision would welcome the chance to be able to enhance their vision on demand.