Monday, March 7, 2011

What's New In Contact Lenses

The Daily Mail (UK) led off its story this way:

It used to be that contact lenses were worn only instead of glasses. Now a new generation of lenses has transformed them into valuable health tools that can help not only with serious eye problems, but everything from migraines to diabetes.
The story particularly notes the development by esearchers at the University of Western Ontario, in Canada, of contact lenses that use nanoparticles to change the contact lenses' color to alert their wearer to changes in their blood sugar levels. The researchers note that the glucose level in tears follows that in the blood by about 30 minutes.

Other researchers have been working along similar lines. A research group in Bath, England, at a company called Smart Holograms is using a research grant to develop contact lenses with embedded holograms — read by a small hand-held device — to alert users. They believe this approach will prove to be more sensitive than the color change systems.

Whatever technology proves itself, and proves commercially viable, needs to become available as soon as possible. It will be a big help to a lot of people. By providing "early warning", it is sure to substantially reduce the incidence of more serious (and costly) medical events and crises.

These developments may be the most important since the diabetes breakthroughs reported in an earlier version of this blog.

The Daily Mail also reported that tinted contact lenses may be able to help dyslexics overcome their problems. The issue there, for about one in three dyslexics, is that perceived contrasts between some color pairs (notably black and white) make things like reading more difficult. Contrast issues more commonly show up with other color pairs.

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