Scientists Developed A Telescopic Contact Lens With 3X Normal Zoom

by Emily Arata

If you can't read the street sign, just wink your right eye and zoom in.

A pioneering pair of contact lenses may soon be a reality for a research team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

These lenses can zoom up to 2.8x normal vision.

IFL Science reports the 1.55 mm-thick contacts, designed for those with aging eyes or macular degeneration, have been in development since 2013.

They're rigid contact lenses, as opposed to the soft lenses most popular today.

According to a press release, the smart lenses are sensitive enough to register the difference between the wearer's average blink and a conscious wink.

A wink by the right eye will activate the zoom while a left-sided wink will restore normal magnification.

The technology behind the contacts relies upon polarization and aperture, words familiar to anyone who's worked with a camera.

The team writes the secret is in the kind of light reaching the lenses, explaining,

The contact lens allows one type of polarization in the 1x aperture and another in the 2.8x aperture. Thus, the user sees the view where the polarization of the glasses and contact lens aperture match.

While researchers are still working to optimize the wearability of the contacts, including increasing oxygen flow to the eyes, they believe the invention opens doors for technology that's a natural addition to everyday life.

Team leader Eric Tremblay told media,

It's very important and hard to strike a balance between function and the social costs of wearing any kind of bulky visual device. There is a strong need for something more integrated, and a contact lens is an attractive direction.

If you can add magnification to eyes, what can't you add?

Citations: Scientists Develop Telescopic Contact Lenses That Can Zoom 3X (IFL Science)