Switchable telescopic contact lens that lets you zoom in

Design and first experimental demonstration for a switchable magnifying contact lens (1.17 mm thick) was recently reported in Optical Society's1 open-access journal Optics Express2.

The optical system is based on a concentric multiple-reflection geometry which provide a combination of telescopic and unmagnified vision through two independent optical paths. The magnified path incorporates a telescopic arrangement to achieve 2.8x magnification on the eye, while a central path provides unmagnified vision. The team built the LCD shutter mechanism into a modified pair of 3D TV glasses, placed over the eyeball, to switch between these two paths and they claim that the LCD technology can be built into the lens easily.

Optical layout of the magnifying contact lens. (a) Unmagnified (1x) optical path through the central clear aperture of the contact lens. (b) Magnified (2.8x) multiple-reflection path through the contact lens. (c) Expanded view. Adapted from Ref 3. Copyright Optical Society of America, 2013.
The current, very promissing, study is based on design in PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate), a gas-impermeable polymer commonly used for early contact lenses. Today’s contact lenses can be produced with high levels of gas permeability, and team suggests that the  future versions of their telescopic magnifying contact lenses will have to be made from rigid gas permeable polymers. Additionally, how these lenses will be switched on and off when they are built with LCD technology has yet to be revealed.

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1) Optical Society of America: http://www.osa.org/
3) Related Paper: Eric. J. Tremblay, Igor Stamenov, R. Dirk Beer, Ashkan Arianpour, Joseph E. Ford DOI:10.1364/OE.21.015980

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