Our eyes are amazing organs, able to focus on near and far objects in an instant. For those that aren’t born with perfect vision, there are excellent options in the form of glasses or contacts, but as helpful as they can be, they don’t come close to matching the versatility of the human eye — especially if multiple prescriptions are involved. Researchers at the University of California San Diego, however, have been working on a better alternative that could vastly improve corrected vision: a smart contact lens capable of switching its focus on near and far objects based on eye movements.
The prototype lens reads electrooculographic signals (electric potential that exists within one’s eyes) for control, via electrodes placed in the skin around the wearer’s eyes. This allows it to detect where a person is looking and adjust accordingly. It could even potentially pick up on blinking signals, acting not just as a corrective device, but as a telephoto lens-style augmentation.
The lens is made out of polymer films that expand when electricity is applied, changing its focal length by as much as 32 percent. It’s an exciting concept, but as of now the setup consists of electronics and hardware that would be extremely unwieldy for everyday use, not to mention the actual lens assembly, all of which will need to be miniaturized to fit on a human eye. The project’s research paper is available here.