Israeli Bionic Contact Lens Will Help Blind People ‘See’
Much in the way Braille allows people who are blind to “see” the written word, a bionic contact lens invented by Israeli researcher Prof. Zeev Zalevsky “presses” images onto the surface of the eye to help the brain decipher through touch what the wearer is looking at.
The lens, still in a prototype stage, uses electrical signals sent to it from a small transponder, clipped to a pair of glasses or downloaded to a smartphone. A regular off-the-shelf camera, like the one inside a phone, “looks” at a crosswalk, items for sale in the grocery store, or at a loved one’s face, and transmits the encoded image via the lens to the wearer’s cornea. The image gets translated into a tactile sensation that can be interpreted visually.
They eye can feel better than your finger
“There are 600 times more sensors in your cornea than on fingertips which are used to touch and read Braille. And since there are so many tactile sensors in the eyes, one can actually sense and ‘feel’ an image at a very high resolution, helping you really see with your eyes when you are blind,” he says.
Zalevsky says the sensation is similar to feeling a person’s face with one’s hands to understand how they look. “We can do the same by touching projected images from the camera onto the cornea of your eye.”
If the lens lives up to its promise, it could go way beyond helping people read. Best of all, it is non-invasive.
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Photo: Colorful eye by Bigstock