Chew's Eye World

UV-blocking, contrast-enhancing contacts:

Nike has teamed up with contact lens maker Bausch and Lomb to create performance-enhancing contact lenses called MaxSight. They're a tinted version of daily disposal lenses for athletes that reduce glare and improve visual acuity.

They block nearly all the sun's damaging UVA and UVB rays just like sunglasses, but their optics can also give athletic performance a boost.

The lenses come in amber for sports like baseball and tennis where the wearer must separate fast moving objects from the background, and grey-green for sports like golf, where the background environment is what's visually important. Both colors filter out a significant amount of overall light, but they also sharpen and improve contrast, so they have a brightening effect, says Alan Reichow, who invented the lenses and is a sports vision consultant for Nike.

The lenses make objects appear sharper by eliminating 90 percent of blue light -- the primary component in "visual noise." Then, in a process Nike calls "light architecture," MaxSight manipulates the brightness and hue of the remaining light transmitted through the lens. The result is improvement of visual acuity. The seams on baseballs are sharper, images in shadows are more clear, and every blade of grass has definition.

They cost about $60 for a six-month supply and are available through 2,500 specialists nationwide. Nike expects that number to double in the next three months.

Glasses for superhumans:

"Theoretically, this should be able to double the distance that a person can see clearly," Blum says.

At the heart of PixelOptics' technology are tiny, electronically-controlled pixels embedded within a traditional eyeglass lens. Technicians scan the eyeball with an aberrometer -- a device that measures aberrations that can impede vision -- and then the pixels are programmed to correct the irregularities.

Thanks to technologies created for astronomical telescopes and spy satellites, aberrometers can map a person's eye with extreme accuracy. Lasers bounce off the back of the eyeball, and structures in the eye scatter the resulting beam of light. Software reads the scattered beam and creates a map of the patient's eye, including tiny abnormalities such as bumps, growths and valleys. The pixelated eyeglass lens is then tuned to refract light in a way that corrects for those high-level aberrations.

Blum hopes to have a working prototype within a year that is built to military specifications.

Blum agrees that improving upon 20/20 vision isn't an end in itself. But people likely can't conceive of the results they might get with his company's technology. For example, slight changes in lighting and air pressure can trigger pixels to reprogram, powered by a computer built into the spectacle frames.

"Most higher-order abnormalities impact vision only under certain conditions," he says. "We can adjust dynamically to those conditions, which makes a big difference in your ability to see."

Previously: Aquatic Razorgirls, eyeball jewelery, artificial retinas, (again), corneal reflections, liquid lenses.

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19 Responses:

  1. stickyboy says:

    Re: MaxSight; /me lusts. I wonder if they'll produce something to combat whatever the term is for computer monitor bug-eyed-ness.

  2. jerronimo says:

    Blu-blocker contacts!

    • baconmonkey says:

      Alright now I'm real fast
      Let me tell you what I think of this 'a come to pass.
      My name is Geek I put 'em on as a shocker
      Man, I love these BluBlockers!

      Everything is clear, they block out the sun.
      Oh yeah, I gotta get me some.
      Everything is groovy now I'm not pulling my speech.
      This is what I do up and down Venice Beach.

      My name is Geek I'm more than a hip-hopper
      And I'll be 'chic' in my BluBlockers! Yeah... now what my mean
      Yep these sun glasses are really really keen.

      So there you have it folks
      Out there in TV land.
      Get you some glasses..
      They're sweeping the land.

      Remember what I said "now I'm a hip hopper"
      Yeah go get you some BluBlockers.
      Um, now yep its sweet
      I'll see you later I gotta make some money on the beach.

  3. creepalicious! Superhumans rule.

  4. evan says:

    It would seem natural to make an "eyewear" tag, rather than needing to make links to previous posts.

  5. wasteddream says:

    So when will they start making a lens that improves the look of the surface *underneath*? I envision a strong application in the world of goggles worn exclusively on the forehead.

    • I have been thinking about laser eye surgery lately. My vision isn't /terribly/ bad, and I've discovered that being (wicked) astigmatic, the blurriness is pretty uniform and this isn't terribly bad.

      It's sort of like living your life in a Barbara Walters special, only, more fuzzy. I can do pretty much anything without my glasses, but for things that require serious resolution, like reading, and far objects -- mind you, not because they're far, just because they're small and small things require resolution to figure out what they are.

      But yes, laser correction. But then! Then I was thinking, well, then I'll lose this way of seeing. No more default blurriness! People are much better looking this way. I don't know if I could give that up.

      But now I've come up with the solution, so I'm free to get surgery if I want to: INCORRECTIVE LENSES.

      But they need to be a secret, 'cause of anybody realizes a pattern between your glasses and them hanging around, they might get /slightly/ upset.

      And also you can totally fuck with people when they try on your glasses and exclaim "holy shit, you're blind!" as people are want to do.

    • baconmonkey says:

      the goggles are there to protect the forehead from being bruised by the back of the wearer's own hand.

  6. spc78 says:

    I've been saying that someone needs to make those contacts for years now. It's definitely cool to see that someone finally has.

  7. nzchrisb says:

    Just last week I was wondering why we didn't use contacts instead of sun glasses. I actually thought I'd come up with something orignal. Oh well.

  8. glocka says:

    In two years:
    "At the heart of PixelOptics' technology are tiny, electronically-controlled pixels embedded within a traditional contact lenses."
    In five years:
    "At the heart of PixelOptics' technology are tiny, electronically-controlled pixels embedded within a traditional optic nerve."

    • joshus_cat says:

      In five years and two weeks:
      "PixelOptics' technology gives you a way to advertise your product in a way your customers can't ignore"

  9. Also note that the adaptive optics thing is coming to regular old laser eye surgery. They're claiming that 20/10 will be the normal result of eye surgery.

    Bah, 2010, gotta stick with contacts for quite a few more years.

    Also, what's the big deal with 20/20? It's not perfect vision, it's normal vision. Perfect vision is when atmospheric interference becomes the limiting factor.

    • sturluson says:

      Since this is my profession,

      1. You don't do adaptive optics in Lasik surgery, since you can't adapt to changing conditions. One piece of an adaptive optics system is a hartmann-shack aberrometer. Surgeons have been using H-S aberrometers for over a decade now to attempt to improve LASIK results. They still aren't particularly good at it (mostly because so many continue to delude themselves into believing that the eye behaves like an unstressed piece of plastic rather than a structural member), but they get better all the time.

      2. The limiting factor of human vision isn't atmospheric interference. The limiting factor is rod/cone density on the retina. 20/10 is already really close to the nyquist limit for resolving the snellen E. The predicted limit is somewhere closer to 20/6 because of tricks the brain plays with the moving video feed it is receiving.

      3. Because glasses and (less so) contacts are not fixed into your optical path, you want to limit the order of aberrations you try to fix because as you go up in order, centration and rotation become more critical. It is fairly easy to grind lenses that correct defocus fairly well wherever you are looking through it, not so with higher stuff like coma, spherical aberration, and secondary-astigmatism.

      4. The brain does a lot of post-processing on the signal it receives from the retina. For this reason, doctors tend to have to ease people into corrected vision if they had particularly bad vision. The brain gets so good at correcting the faults of the system, it prefers a similarly aberrated eye to a perfectly corrected one. Over time, the brain can adjust, but... I've been in a few AO systems, and it makes my vision worse. I'm sure if it were possible to sit in one for a few weeks, it would help, but nobody has made a workable AO system much smaller than a mini-tower yet.