Contact Lenses of the (Near and Far) Future
As an organization that performs LASIK surgery, contact lenses aren't always our priority. But we also know they’re an important part of our patients’ lives, whether they ever opt to have LASIK surgery or not.
So when we saw a couple of articles, recently, about the dramatic advancements being made in contact lenses we had to share. Here’s a rundown of what’s here and what could be coming.
Transition Lenses for Contacts
Transition lenses for glasses have been around for quite a while. So it's no surprise that Johnson and Johnson worked with Transitions Optical for the last 10 years to bring the photochromic technology to contact lenses, too.
After running clinical trials on over one thousand patients, they’ve received FDA approval for two-week disposable contacts that slowly darken when you step outside. The lenses contain the same photochromic molecules used in the glasses. These molecules change their structure when exposed to UV light, darkening when you step outside. They slowly lighten when you make your way back inside (where UV light is weaker or filtered by windows).
The lenses became available in early 2019. You can read more on the Johnson and Johnson website.
*And, yes, we’re thinking it too: they definitely have a slightly creepy effect of darkening the person’s eyes, but we still haven't reached Black Mirror levels.
Self-Focusing & Zooming Contact Lenses
Okay, we’ll admit that self zooming lenses based on eye movement seems a little far-fetched, but apparently, researchers and scientists at the University of California San Diego have created a prototype of a contact lens that can be controlled by blinking or looking in a specific direction.
And while the prototype is too big to fit on a human eye at this point, the technology is promising.
Because your eyes produce steady electrical currents called Electrooculographic Signals, it’s possible to measure those signals to control the lens’ focus. This is similar to the technology that allows people with limited body movement to control a wheelchair.
The technology—while years away from being actualized in real contact lenses—has the potential to change the lives of millions of people with aging eyes, or common problems like macular degeneration. The researchers are even mentioning use in robotics.
The full publication of the researcher’s findings can be found here (though, you’ll have to pay to access the whole thing). If you’re looking for something cheaper (i.e. free) you can read this article from Gizmodo which as a great graphic from the researcher's official publication.