Screens and cameras in the eyes and other promises of future lenses | technology

There are some augmented reality lenses that, in addition to vision correction, have microLED screens the size of a grain of sand for seeing all kinds of information, from the tracks on the ski slope to the speed at which you’re running in the race. It is the ambitious project that Mojo Vision is working on, a start of the United States has been improving its prototypes since 2015. More and more companies and scientists are trying to offer contact lens applications that seemed like science fiction decades ago, such as recording videos or the ability to diagnose and treat diseases.

“In the short term, it appears to be a forward-looking proposal, but 20 years ago we didn’t even imagine many of the technological advances we have now,” says Ana Belen Cisneros del Río, deputy dean of the College of Optometrists in Castilla. Leon (COOCYL), referring to the Mojo Vision project. Daniel Ellis, a cornea, cataract and refractive surgeon and medical director of the Miranza Group (IMO) in Madrid, does not consider that this type of contact lens can be implemented in the short term, “especially because of the cost issues”.

One of the companies interested in manufacturing augmented reality glasses is Magic Leap. Meanwhile, a few years ago, Sony filed for patents for eyelid-controlled video recording lenses, and Samsung for lenses equipped with a camera and the ability to project images directly onto the user’s eye. Meanwhile, some researchers are trying to create robotic lenses capable of zooming in and out of objects (with a zoom effect) by opening and closing the eyes, and others are trying to make them see in the dark, something that can be very useful in the military field.

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There are manufacturers who are using opaque and brittle components to make smart lens electronic systems work, according to research published in the journal. science progress. Something, the authors pointed out, could obscure the user’s vision and cause eye damage. For this type of contact lens to come on the market, in addition to overcoming multiple technical challenges and providing clear vision, it is essential that they do not pose any risk to eye health. “They’re still foreign objects that we get into the eye,” says Cisneros, who insists the research is important in developing materials that are biocompatible with the surface of the cornea.

health monitoring

If there is one area in which scientists and tech giants are trying to tap into the potential of contact lenses, it is health. Review published in the magazine Advanced Material Technologies Indicates that sensor lenses can be used to non-invasively monitor many diseases and conditions. “The presence of biomarkers in tears will lead to diagnostic contact lenses to help detect and treat systemic and ocular diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, and dry eye syndrome,” Cisneros says.

Google tested contact lenses designed to measure glucose levels in tears.
Google tested contact lenses designed to measure glucose levels in tears.The Google.

The expert speculates that the lenses can monitor eye pressure, monitor glaucoma (a disease that damages the optic nerve of the eye) and even obtain images of the vessels of the retina for early detection of high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. For people with recent disease, lenses capable of measuring blood glucose levels may be helpful. Something companies like Google and Microsoft have worked on for years. Other scientists have tried to go further and create ones that change color to alert about changes in glucose level.

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One limitation of these types of lenses is that they can usually detect only one biomarker in the eye, such as glucose or lactic acid, according to a review published in the journal. advanced intelligent systems. The authors believe that developing lenses capable of detecting multiple chemical components in real time will make them “more powerful as biomedical tools.”

Medication Delivery Lenses

These lenses can also be useful in treating some eye diseases. Indeed, several investigations confirm their potential as portable medical devices for analyzing the eye’s response to certain drugs and evaluating surgical procedures. “Contact lenses that deliver medication can provide more accurate doses than conventional eye drops, increasing how long the medication stays on the surface of the eye and reducing side effects,” Cisneros adds.

It’s still too early to know what innovations will be incorporated into contact lenses in the coming decades, but the possibilities are endless. Ellis does not rule out that in the distant future they will be equipped with sensors or a camera capable of recording internal information from the eye and through detect Based on artificial intelligence, they can perform diagnostics or send certain alerts. It concludes, “They may include antiseptic systems to avoid infection or color changes to indicate possible deterioration in the same.”

Potential privacy risks of smart lenses

Wearing contact lenses that are able to record or monitor eye movements can raise privacy concerns. Samuel Barra, an attorney specializing in technology law, distinguishes the effect of this type of lens on two different topics: on the one hand, on who wears it, and on the other, “we can be seen through it”.
According to European regulations, these lenses cannot collect any kind of personal information from the wearer without their prior consent. For example, statements about your behavior or taste. “Neither a manufacturer nor an operator has been able to post a function to see if the user wearing it, who knows to be a 25-year-old man, looks more at blonde or brunette girls, and from there, infers a preference,” Barra said.
But the problem may arise with the privacy of others: “Do we have the right to know that we are dealing with a person with one of these lenses that may analyze our personality or record our personal image?” In 2019, the European Data Protection Supervisor issued a report on the use of smart glasses. In it, he showed his concern about using this type of device without others noticing. In the case of contact lenses, according to Barra, something similar can happen.

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