Swiss scientists have developed contact lenses that have telescopic abilities and can let one zoom into things with a wink. The contact lens, it is hoped, will aid individuals with impaired vision in the long term.

Controlled via winking, these lenses are the first of their kind and have a super thin telescope that switches into action when the wearer uses their right eye to wink. The contact lens returns to normal when the wearer winks their left eye.

This "superhero vision" contact lens has been developed by researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland and funded by the DARPA. A prototype of the device was unveiled by EPFL's Eric Tremblay at the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Jose, Calif.

"We think these lenses hold a lot of promise for low vision and age-related macular degeneration (AMD)," stated Tremblay. "It's very important and hard to strike a balance between function and the social costs of wearing any kind of bulky visual device. There is a strong need for something more integrated, and a contact lens is an attractive direction."

The contact lenses will be able to magnify vision three-fold if a wearer so chooses, giving hope to individuals who suffer from AMD, which causes blindness in the aged.

This contact lens is a tad bigger and thicker than regular contact lenses. The "superhero vision" contact lenses also have the ability to allow light through the center, but what gives them the ability to magnify images is the ring of tiny mirrors that circle the center and magnify vision 2.8 times. These mirrors basically reflect the light and magnify the view, making it seem like the wearer is seeing via binoculars.

The lenses are created from a wide variety of plastic, aluminum mirrors, biologically safe glue and polarizing thin films that are cut precisely and carefully assembled. Each lens also has small air channels that are 0.1mm wide to enable the flow of oxygen and make the lenses more breathable, as oxygen permeability is imperative for lenses.

While the contact lens is still being researched, the scientists hope that it will soon become a feasible option for individuals with AMD. The DARPA may deploy the technology to endow its pilots and soldiers with super vision as well.

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