Instead of having spectacles perched awkwardly on your nose, or itchy contacts that you can’t stop losing, what if the same optical technology could be implanted inside the eyeball – a permanent set of contact lenses to correct your sight? That’s the aim of a new invention by UK student Devesh Mistry, which uses an auto-focusing liquid crystal material to correct defects in vision.
Mistry’s work is aimed at helping elderly people with failing eyesight, and in particular, those suffering from presbyopia: the condition is usually found in the over-45s and causes the natural lens inside a person’s eyeballs to become stiff and inflexible. That rigidity means that the eye muscles can’t work properly to bring long-range objects into focus.
Lenses made with liquid crystals – the same material found in modern-day television sets and computer monitors – can focus and adjust themselves automatically in response to prompts from the eye muscles, and that means a damaged eye could be effectively repaired. The implant operation would work along similar lines to the one already used to remove and replace cataracts, Mistry says.
“Liquid crystals are a very under-rated phase of matter,” he explained to The Times. “Everybody’s happy with solids, liquids and gases and the phases of matter, but liquid crystals lie between crystalline solids and liquids. They have an ordered structure like a crystal, but they can also flow like a liquid and respond to stimuli.” And it’s those qualities that make the new research so promising, even if there’s some way to go yet before such an operation is going to be possible: Mistry is hoping to have a prototype lens ready by the time he completes his doctorate at the University of Leeds in 2018. Source: These implantable LCD lenses could replace glasses and contacts forever