With the term electronic lenses it is usually indicated a new type of hybrid lenses, or lenses constituted in part by traditional optics and in part by innovative optics such as liquid crystal lenses or entirely constituted by liquid crystals. There are already electronic glasses, contact lenses and intraocular lenses prototypes. The electronic lenses will allow you to interact in person in a world of reality expanded (“augmented reality”) very soon.
One of the prototypes of the electronic glasses (see PNAS 2006, vol. 103, n. 16), was developed in the University of Arizona in collaboration with PixelOptics; its most current version could be ready for the placing on the market within the next years. The technology used is similar to that of the screens of televisions. In practice, a liquid crystal layer is encapsulated between two lenses and allows to focus on the near images. The focus for near is made possible thanks to an “autofocus” method similar to that used by modern compact digital cameras. The new lenses could completely revolutionize the approach to the optical correction of presbyopia. The only drawback is still the appearance of the frame designed to support hybrid lenses, that is no so fashion!
ELECTRONIC CONTACT LENS
The contact lens prototype includes an electronic micro-diode red light and was tested on rabbits, not showing any adverse effects. The use in humans is still long, though the contact lens materials are highly safe and well tolerated by the human eye, the same can not be said for the manufacturing processes of the electronic circuits, that require the use of potentially toxic chemicals and inorganic materials. Last but not least the difficulty of charging the contact lens electronics, maybe using micro-solar cells implanted directly on the lens itself.
ELECTRONIC INTRAOCULAR LENS
One of the prototypes of electronic intraocular lens was produced by the Electronic Instrumentation in collaboration with the OKO Technologies. The prototype consists of a nematic liquid crystal placed between two glass slides, which correct the defocus initial, on which are mounted the transparent electrodes. By changing the amplitude and frequency of the electrical current, the focus of the IOL can be changed to improve near vision. The first experiments have shown that this technology is able to change the focal power of the electronic intraocular lens up to +3 diopters, with a wireless control. These properties make the electronic intraocular lens between the applications of more benefit in the near future for the correction of presbyopia after cataract surgery.