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New contact lenses give telescopic vision to help eye problems

July 2, 2013 at 6:42 PM   |   Comments

SAN DIEGO, July 2 (UPI) -- U.S. and European scientists says they have created contact lenses that, when paired with special eyeglasses, give telescopic vision to those who wear them.

The combination of contact lenses and spectacle provides a magnification power of 2.8 times, while polarizing filters in the eyeglasses will allow users to switch between normal and telescopic vision.

The system has been developed to help people suffering age-related blindness, the researchers said, including age-related macular degeneration, a common form of blindness that damages the part of the eye that handles fine detail.

The team, led by Joseph Ford at the University of California, San Diego, and Eric Tremblay at Switzerland's EPFL, has created a prototype contact lens 8mm in diameter, 1mm thick at its center, which is surrounded by a 1.17mm-thick magnifying ring.

"The most difficult part of the project was making the lens breathable," Tremblay told the BBC. "If you want to wear the lens for more than 30 minutes you need to make it breathable."

Gases have to be able to penetrate the lens to keep the cornea of the eye supplied with oxygen, he said.

The team has developed lenses equipped with tiny channels that let oxygen flow through.

Lenses are being prepared for clinical trials in November, the researchers said, and eventually it should be possible for those with age-related sight problems to wear the telescopic lenses all day.

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