There may be a revolution in eye wear technology just around the corner, just in time for the baby boom generation entering the age when vision problems start to manifest. Two companies are working on eye wear which will work with adaptive optic technology, currently used for astronautical telescopes and military spy satellites. The emerging technology promises to be the greatest advance in eye wear since Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals.
PixelOptics, of Roanoke, Virginia is working on eye wear that uses imbedded electronic pixels in the lens to adapt light refraction to minute aberrations of the eyes of the wearer. Eye glasses or contacts made with this technology would be a boon to people who now wear bifocals and progressive lenses. No more having to tilt ones head to view objects that are near through the near distance part of the lens or far through the far distance part of the lens. PixelOptics claims that no matter where an object is, from the pages of a book or a far away landscape, it will be in crystal clear focus. PixelOptics eye wear for correcting Presbyopia will be the first product to be commercialized.
PixelOptics claims that in the future, lenses created with its technology will permit vision correction in excess of 20/20, perhaps better than 20/10. PixelOptics lenses with this technology will have the ability to dynamically change to ones environment and thus can adjust for aberration changes caused by the environment or working conditions, for example lighting, altitude, convergence / divergence, tear blink, and so on. The military is very interested in this technology and has given PixelOptics a 3.5 million dollar grant to develop this “super vision” technology.
PixelOptics also envisions intra-ocular lenses, implanted in the eyes of people who suffer from visual ailments like cataracts or macular degeneration, using its technology. Post operative programming of the device and the ability to focus light on undamaged parts of a human retina provide significant advantages.
The second company working on adaptive optical eye wear is Ophthonix of San Diego, California. Ophthonix’s system uses a tiny, laser device called the Z-View Aberrometer to map the minute aberrations in a human eye, capturing more than 11,000 measuring points. Once the scan is done, the device’s software automatically generates a prescription digitally. This is obviously a vast improvement over the hit or method in which a doctor asks a patient which letter is clearer. The technology is already used for Lasik procedures, but in this case it will be used for corrective eye wear and not for a surgery.
Ophthonix will then create eye glasses from the prescription. The eye glasses use two pieces of thin plastic with a layer of liquid plastic between them. The liquid plastic layer is then programmed to correspond to the particular prescription.
PixelOptics is uncertain as to when eye wear with its technology will be available. Opthonix is already selling Aberrometers to medical practitioners, mainly in California and in selected states. It should be available nationwide later in 2006.