Contact Lenses that Adjust to the Sun

The medical industry does not lack developments specific to addressing eye conditions. Some particularly interesting examples are the world’s first synthetic retinas and a teen-made AI system that diagnoses eye diseases. Today, I bring good news to my fellow four-eyed people: you can now wear FDA-approved contact lenses that adjust to the sunlight.

“This contact lens is the first of its kind to incorporate the same technology that is used in eyeglasses that automatically darken in the sun,” Malvina Eydelman said in a statement. Eydelman is the director of the Division of Ophthalmic, and Ear, Nose and Throat Devices at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

The light-reactive lenses, which Johnson & Johnson calls Acuvue Oasys Contact Lenses with Transitions Light Intelligent Technology, are for everyday use and lasts up to 14 days. While it might not yet be available for purchase, it could hit the stores soon enough, as it has already been approved by Food and Drug Administration last week.

The contact lenses contain a photochromic coating that adapts to UV light exposure. Johnson & Johnson says the lenses will automatically return to a regular tint when exposed to normal or dark lighting conditions.

The company also reassures future buyers that wearing darkening lenses does not mean having to look like a demon or an alien; a gray tint just appears, which is nearly imperceptible in brown eyes and just the slightest bit noticeable in lighter eyes. So no worries there, pal.

Now I can barely wait for summer to try this one out.

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Smart Contact Lenses Could Document Your Life

Just when we thought space teleportation was way beyond our reach, China figured it out. Now, long-awaited technologies are manifesting all over the world. This includes smart contact lenses that record everything you see.

The lenses would record images while they’re “worn on an eyeball.” The data is recorded on their own storage units.

“In a case where predetermined eyelid closure of an eyelid that is in contact with the lens unit is detected, the recording control unit records the captured image captured by the image pickup unit in the storage medium.”

If you’re a frequent concertgoer, leaving your camera behind could now be the least of your worries. However, while it may be a hassle-free perk for most, others see the device as a potential threat.

“While this really sounds futuristic, at the same time we believe that Sony’s contact lenses can cause a breach of an individual’s privacy. The person would never know that someone with such sophisticated tech can record his/her activities with just a blink of an eye.”

Luckily, Sony has time to mull over its decision, as the lenses are still on patent stage. Do you have an eye out for these smart contact lenses?

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Computer Allows Locked-In Patients To Communicate

Victims of damaging accidents or conditions don’t always recover completely, but technology can improve their lifestyles. Medical algorithms can help patients with neurological disorders to walk again. The (not-so) humble iPhone can even act as a hearing aid. But for locked-in patients who have lost all muscle control, there aren’t many options for recuperation. Nonetheless, a nano-science professor at Georgia State University has created a new computer interface, allowing patients to communicate with their eyes.

Zhong Lin Wang and his colleagues describe a device, mounted to a pair of eyeglasses, that lies gently against the skin beside the eye and can feel the pressure, in the form of an electrical signal, as the skin presses against it during a blink.

As with any eye-based technology, Wang and his team are still working on the machine differentiating reflexive and intentional blinks. But so far, outcomes look great. Not only is the computer non-invasive, it’s, “stable, small, light, flexible, and low-cost” among other words in the thesaurus.

When placed on the temple of the glasses, the sensor sits gently against the wrinkle beside the user’s eye. That skin flexes slightly outward during a blink, bending the nanogenerator and sending an electrical signal.

The device continues to undergo testing, but things are certainly looking up for locked-in patients.

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Woman With Extra Cone Cell Can See More Colors

While we’ve been off creating synthetic retinas and talking cameras for the blind, this woman’s vision is far from lacking. The UK native has an extra cone cell, which means she can see far more colors than a typical person can.

According to estimates… she can see an incredible 99 million more colors than the rest of us, and the scientists think she’s just one of a number of people with super-vision, which they call “tetrachromats”, living amongst us.

Most people are trichromats, able to distinguish around 1 million colors. Mammals and sufferers of color blindness are dichromats with only two cone cells. The apparent reason researchers have only discovered a single true tetrachromat is because people with this special vision would never need to use their fourth cone cell.

“Most of the things that we see as colored are manufactured by people who are trying to make colors that work for trichromats. It could be that our whole world is tuned to the world of the trichromat.”

In short, our world of colors is just too primitive for tetrachromats. We may ever know what things look like through the eyes of one, but it will allow for better seeing aids.

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Fish Eyes Are Being Used To Cure Blindness

Treatments for the seeing-impaired are not always easy to come by. That’s why we make do with technology like talking cameras that allow the blind to “see.” However, a new study shows that mimicking fish eyes could potentially cure blindness.

Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle reported that they have hacked the cells of a mouse retina to act like those of a fish—not only growing new neurons, but also wiring those neurons up to other neurons that send signals to the brain.

While surgery can treat cataracts, retina damage is incurable — but not for zebrafish. Their eyes regenerate indefinitely, assisted by a cell called Müller glia. The cell acts as a “stand in” for lost neurons. Humans also carry the cell but due to differences in DNA, cannot access this reprogrammable characteristic.

[UW Researchers found] Trichostatin-A (TSA), a hormonal treatment for breast cancer, that also happens to open up the regeneration DNA sequence. In an injured retina, these Müller glia cells treated with TSA transformed into two types of neurons, bipolar and amacrine cells, that are part of the retina’s internal wiring.

Scientists have yet to produce photoreceptor neurons, but with the way things are going, creating them is very possible.

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