High-Tech Contact Lenses Correct Form of Color Blindness; Researchers Apply Ultra-Thin Metasurfaces to Standard Contact Lenses for Customizable Color Correction

Researchers have incorporated ultra-thin optical devices known as metasurfaces into off-the-shelf contact lenses to correct deuteranomaly, a form of red-green color blindness. The new customizable contact lens could offer a convenient and comfortable way to help people who experience various forms of color blindness. "Problems with distinguishing red from green interrupt simple daily routines such as deciding whether a banana is ripe," said Sharon Karepov from Tel Aviv University in Israel, a member of the research team. "Our contact lenses use metasurfaces based on nano-metric size gold ellipses to create a customized, compact and durable way to address these deficiencies." In a recent issue (Volume 46, Issue 6, 2020) of The Optical Society (OSA) journal Optics Letters, Karepov and a colleague (Tal Ellenbogen) report that, based on simulations of color vision deficiency, their new metasurface-based contact lens can restore lost color contrast and improve color perception by up to a factor of 10. The article is titled “Metasurface Based Contact Lenses for Color Vision Deficiency.” The approach used to introduce new and tailor-designed functionalities to contact lenses could be expanded to help other forms of color vision deficiency and even other eye disorders, according to the researchers. Deuteranomaly, which occurs mostly in men, is a condition in which the photoreceptor responsible for detecting green light responds to light associated with redder colors. Scientists have known for more than 100 years that this vision problem can be improved by reducing detection of the excessively perceived color, but achieving this correction in a comfortable and compact device is challenging.
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