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ACLM Puts Contact Lens Communication In The Spotlight
07 June 2013
If you buy contact lenses online, or have considered doing so in the past, you’re not alone – some 50 per cent of contact lens wearers are the same, according to a recent survey by the Association of Contact Lens Manufacturers (ACLM) and Optician magazine. Worryingly, though, the same study identified that only 16 per cent of respondents had actually discussed buying online with their opticians. This suggests that the eyecare industry needs to improve efforts to ensure that customers are better educated about contact lenses – both in terms of the advantages they offer and the correct ways to use them safely. This week, ACLM and Optician released follow-up data showing exactly how we communicate with our opticians.
Out of the 2,468 contact lens wearers who completed the survey online, just 40 per cent thought they could get away with not having an optician to advise them on issues regarding ocular health. Conversely, almost the same number of people (38 per cent) admitted that stories in the press had made them concerned about whether they were using their contact lenses safely; a quarter of respondents said they’d even stopped wearing contacts at certain points. As for the contact they made with their opticians, this tended to be poorly tailored to their requirements. Sixty-nine per cent received reminder letters and 20 per cent were sent a regular newsletter; a further 17 per cent were alerted when new products became available. However, 14 per cent of contact lens wearers reported that their opticians didn’t get in contact with them at all.
In light of the survey results, secretary general of the ACLM Simon Rodwell warned opticians that patients aren’t getting the information they need. “Better communication all round should be your top priority,” he said. While buying contact lenses over the internet offers unparalleled convenience, it’s important that users discuss their health and safety concerns with a trained eyecare professional – as well as making sure the product they choose is right for them.
Contacts Release Anesthesia to Eyes of Post-Surgery Patients
30 January 2012
Scientists have developed a contact lens that releases anesthesia to the eye for post-surgery pain relief. The contacts can be particularly effective for patients who undergo PRK (photorefractive keratectomy), in which the healing process can take days, weeks or even months.
Currently, medicated eye drops are used after laser eye surgery, and patients typically use the drops every few hours for several days. Compared to the LASIK procedure, PRK has a longer period of pain following surgery, and PRK patients receive a “bandage” contact lens to help the eye heal.
Lead by Anuj Chauhan, PhD, from the University of Florida, a team of scientists found that anesthesia can continually release from the lens for a full day and up to seven days when vitamin E is added to the lens. Without vitamin E, the lens can release anesthesia for only less than two hours.
The scientists stated that the vitamin E loaded silicone contact lens could act as a bandage contact lens as well as deliver pain medication following laser eye surgery.
The study was reported in the American Chemical Society’s journal Langmuir.
Contact lenses to get in-built virtual graphics
12 November 2009
A contact lens that harvests radio waves to power an LED is paving the way for a new kind of display. The lens is a prototype of a device that could display information beamed from a mobile device.
Realising that display size is increasingly a constraint in mobile devices, Babak Parviz at the University of Washington, in Seattle, hit on the idea of projecting images into the eye from a contact lens.
One of the limitations of current head-up displays is their limited field of view. A contact lens display can have a much wider field of view. “Our hope is to create images that effectively float in front of the user perhaps 50 cm to 1 m away,” says Parviz.
His research involves embedding nanoscale and microscale electronic devices in substrates like paper or plastic. He also wears contact lenses. “It was a matter of putting the two together,” he says.
Fitting a contact lens with circuitry is challenging. The polymer cannot withstand the temperatures or chemicals used in large-scale microfabrication, Parviz explains. So, some components – the power-harvesting circuitry and the micro light-emitting diode – had to be made separately, encased in a biocompatible material and then placed into crevices carved into the lens.
One obvious problem is powering such a device. The circuitry requires 330 microwatts but doesn’t need a battery. Instead, a loop antenna picks up power beamed from a nearby radio source. The team has tested the lens by fitting it to a rabbit.
Parviz says that future versions will be able to harvest power from a user’s cell phone, perhaps as it beams information to the lens. They will also have more pixels and an array of microlenses to focus the image so that it appears suspended in front of the wearer’s eyes.
Despite the limited space available, each component can be integrated into the lens without obscuring the wearer’s view, the researchers claim. As to what kinds of images can be viewed on this screen, the possibilities seem endless. Examples include subtitles when conversing with a foreign-language speaker, directions in unfamiliar territory and captioned photographs. The lens could also serve as a head-up display for pilots or gamers.
Mark Billinghurst, director of the Human Interface Technology Laboratory, in Christchurch, New Zealand, is impressed with the work. “A contact lens that allows virtual graphics to be seamlessly overlaid on the real world could provide a compelling augmented reality experience,” he says. This prototype is an important first step in that direction, though it may be years before the lens becomes commercially available, he adds.
Magnetic contact lenses
11 July 2007
Tracking eye movements can let a computer know when someone is paying attention and identify exactly what they are interested in, but it’s also a tricky business. Most systems work by using a camera and image recognition software to identify a person’s pupils and work out the direction of their gaze.
In real-life situations, however, tracking systems can be easily confused by rapid head movement or spectacles.
Now, the Office of Naval Research is looking for better ways of tracking eyes in the hope of developing military applications, such as tracking a fighter pilot’s gaze.
So it has a funded James DiCarlo, a neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, US, to develop a magnetic contact lens.
A soldier would wear the lenses and a magnetic sensor attached to the side of his or her head. The sensor picks up any changes in the local magnetic field and works out how the wearer’s eyes are moving.
The system should work regardless of head orientation and movement, lighting condition,s or “face furniture” such as goggles or glasses. The team says the magnetic lenses could also let disabled people control equipment such as wheelchairs.