Shakespeare once said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. While I can’t verify the Bard’s statement, I will say that my eyesight probably isn’t the best. After two decades of playing computer games and reading books in the dark, I’ve resigned myself to a likely future in which I’m reliant on glasses. About one quarter of Americans rely on corrective lenses in daily life, which makes the following breakthrough very promising for many people.
If approved, the Bionic Lens by Ocumetrics has the potential to provide wearers with vision better than 20/20 for a lifetime, regardless of age.
How Does it Work?
Have you ever dreamed of becoming a cyborg? Now’s your chance, because this technology is a camera lens that replaces your eye’s natural lens. Cool, right? Researchers at Ocumetics Technology Corp contend that the Bionic Lens can create 3-D landscapes in real-time without straining the wearer.
More data from the Ocumetric website reveals that the camera can “shift focus from optical infinity to very close range more rapidly than the perceptual limits of the human brain. The result is a super wide-field video that can change perspective or viewing distances without perceptible time delay.” It’s not heat vision, a la Superman, but imagine transcending the limits of human sight.
Canadian optometrist and inventor of the product, Dr. Garth Webb, likened the process to a routine cataract surgery. After a painless eight-minute operation, Webb promises immediate correction. Cataracts are characterized by a clouding of the lens within the eye due to aging. The condition is common among older people, but because the Bionic Lens is a camera, users will never grow cataracts. Webb sees many possible commercial applications if initial testing goes well.
Past, Present, and Future
The impetus for the Bionic Lens project came from Webb’s personal struggles with sight throughout his life: “At age 45, I had to struggle with reading glasses which, like most people, I found was a great insult … My heroes were cowboys, and cowboys just did not wear glasses.”
The doctor was given glasses in second grade, and in the years since, he’s made it his mission to provide sight to as many people as possible, asserting: “Perfect eyesight should be a human right.” The Bionic Lens is the culmination of seven years and $3 million in research.
Webb’s research caught the eye of many leading ophthalmologists in the San Diego area during a presentation at a gathering hosted by the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. Ophthalmologist and professor at Yale University, Dr. Vincent DeLuise, had this to say: “There’s a lot of excitement about the Bionic Lens from very experienced surgeons who perhaps had some cynicism about this because they’ve seen things not work in the past. They think that this might actually work, and they’re eager enough that they all wish to be on the medical advisory board to help him on his journey.”
Following his successful showing in April, many industry leaders, including DeLuise, have joined the board of directors.
Clinical trials on animals and blind volunteers are slated to begin in the coming months—as soon as the procedures pass regulatory inspections in each of the participating countries. Webb anticipates that the Bionic Lens will be available for commercial use by 2017.
Are you excited for the possibilities that this technology will bring or is it too soon to tell? This story is still developing, so if you have any new information, feel free to pass it along.