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March 02, 2015

Scientists develop zooming contact lenses

This technology may be a breakthrough for those with age-related macular degeneration

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Telescopic contact lenses The American Association for the Advancement of Science/for PhillyVoice

Optics specialist Eric Tremblay from EPFL in Switzerland unveiled the latest prototype in the telescopic contact lens and debuts accessory wink-controlled glasses that switch between normal and 2.8x magnified vision.

Researchers in Switzerland have developed a protocol for magnifying contact lenses that can enhance vision 2.8 times with a wink of an eye.

The telescopic technology was developed by scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and unveiled at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in early February. 

Wink your right eye to zoom in; wink your left eye to zoom out. - Science Magazine

It’s being touted as a particularly exciting breakthrough for patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a progressive condition that causes gradual loss of central vision due to cell damage in the retina. It is the leading cause of visual impairment in adults over 50, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

How it works:

Within the 1.5-millimeter-thick lenses are a ring of tiny aluminum mirrors, which bounce light around, increasing the perceived size of objects and magnifying the view, according to Science Magazine. 

The new technology, which also distinguishes between blinks and winks, has yet to be tested by humans, and there is no timeline or guarantee it will be approved for medical use and reach the market. But there's hope.

For full coverage of the AAAS meeting, click here.

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