There is no doubt that cyberpunk fans have a lot to look forward to in the future. A recent development in retina technology has recently come in to focus in the form of a telescopic contact lenses which allow the user to zoom in on their vision with the blink of an eye.

Developed by a research team at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, helmed by researcher Eric Wemblay, the lenses can magnify objects to up to 2.8 times. So how does it work?

The telescopic element of the lenses cover the whites of the eyes, and have arranged within them tiny aluminium mirrors which bounce light that streams through four times before directing the light towards the retina. 

The latest model developed by the team has been designed so that they are comfortable to wear for extended periods. Previous models were hampered because of the lack of oxygen flow to the underside of the lens which caused irritation to the eye. The new model however features small air channels built into the contacts which allows the eyes to respire more naturally making it more comfortable to wear.

The lenses are designed to be accompanied by a specialized set of electronic glasses which have polarising filters set within them. When the user wants to switch their vision to telescopic mode, they wink their eyes, which activates the polarising filters fitted within the glasses, and directs the light onto the telescopic section of the contact lenses. Winking once again, reverts the effect and switches the user back to normal vision.

The enhanced vision might prove to be particularly useful for people suffering from ‘macular degeneration’, a debilitating condition in which people gradually lose their central vision rendering objects hard to focus on. The condition is the leading cause of visual impairment and affects millions of people around the world.

With upcoming clinical trials to be held in November, it should be possible for those with age-related sight problems to wear telescopic lenses to help improve their lives.

Of course, it should come to no surprise that there has also been considerable interest by the military as well, with much of the research being funded by DARPA, which is the research arm of the US military. Of course their interests lie in the development of super vision for the armed forces which is a much more knotty problem.

Varun Manoj

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