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Contact Lens “Electrifies” the Blind With Sight

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As we report frequently here at Tech & Innovation Daily, technological advances are resulting in some incredible breakthroughs in the healthcare sector.

Whether it’s for new drugs and therapies, or cutting-edge medical devices, science is tackling diseases and conditions once thought untreatable.

One area where technology is making major headway is with advances for the blind. For example, regaining lost vision – once thought impossible – is now becoming more feasible through wearable technology like the Argus II glasses, or hearing devices and smartphones.

Now, welcome to the next breakthrough…

The Contact Lenses That Help You “Feel” to See

We’ve heard of contact lenses that give better sight to the visually impaired, but how about lenses that actually give sight to the blind?

It’s becoming a reality, thanks to scientists in Israel.

You see, a matrix of sensors designed to lie against the cornea is embedded in the lens. According to co-developer Zeeva Zelevsky, a researcher in the faculty of Engineering at Bar Ilan University in Israel, these sensors take images sent from a tiny camera and convert them into electrical signals, thus stimulating nerves on the eye surface.

Result?

“This spatial tactile sensation, after proper training, can be recognized as the spatial shape that was imaged by the camera.” 

In other words, the technology will help the blind perceive objects around them, says Zelevsky. Though the system is still in the pilot phase, a prototype device is used to demonstrate how the system works. Instead of electrical signals, it uses tiny pipes to deliver air pressure.

Zelevsky and fellow electro-optical scientist, Yevgeny Biederman, now want to “prove the concept of our device,” says Biederman. Ultimately, he continues, “We will replace these pipes with the contact lens and electric circuits which will stimulate our eye instead of these pipes.” 

The lens converts signals for the brain, much like the way it processes braille, according to Zelevsky:

“In a sense, what we’re doing is similar to how they read braille with the tips of their fingers. But in our case, it’s like they take out their eyeball and reach it towards the object that’s facing in front of the camera and feeling it with the cornea, with the surface of the eye.” 

This technology could be transformative for the blind, and the developers hope it’ll be available within three years.