Monday, 9 September 2019

Research: Artificial Lenses

I wrote a while ago about Augmented Reality Glasses and where we are today in developing them. Charles Joynson, the author of A Brief History of the Future,  suggests that once the glasses are a reality, they will develop intraocular lenses (inside the eye) to do the same.

I was surprised to find that artificial lenses for normal sight are already in use. When a cataract is removed, an artificial lens is put in its place. 

According to my research the National Health Service in the UK only offers mono lenses, with a fixed focus set for either reading or distance, so the patient then needs glasses as well. For those who can pay, trifocus lenses are available that can focus on reading, intermediate and long distance. These patients do not need glasses at all.

Toric lenses are also available, combined with mono or trifocus lenses, which correct astigmatism. Already, people who are likely to develop cataracts sometimes pre-empt the condition by having what is called clear lens replacement.

The Visionaware website explains the history of it:
Artificial intraocular (within the eye) lenses were developed in the early part of the 20th century, and Dr. Harold Ridley implanted the first artificial lens in 1949 in London. In 1952, the first artificial lens was implanted in the United States at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia. Since that time, cataract surgery and artificial lenses have continued to evolve and develop. 
In most cases, the natural lens is removed and the artificial lens is implanted during the same surgery. The artificial lens is usually placed within the lens capsule, which is the small "sac" or membrane that once enclosed the natural lens and held it in place.
In the 70s the TV series The Six Million Dollar Man told the story of Steve Austin, a crashed astronaut whose body was rebuilt with bionic parts. One eye had zoom capability and infrared.

The futuristic lenses, Joynson suggests, would allow people to do far more. Wearers could see in the dark, see through fog and cloud, and see the ocean floor from the surface of the sea. Current games like Pokemon Go superimpose the game on the player’s actual surroundings. The lenses could also manipulate reality:
People who preferred bright summer sun to sad winter gloom could brighten their environment and add leaves and flowers to the trees in the depth of winter. Others who liked snow could turn their summer landscape into a winter wonderland and sci-fi fans or open gamers could create alien landscapes in their city streets.
What do you think? Would you like to be able to change your vision, or would you not like tech in your head?

Ann Marie Thomas is the author of four medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, and book two Alien Secrets, are out now. Follow her at

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