Insect Vision Contact Lens

This bug-inspired lens breakthrough from Ohio State University was developed by associate professor of bio-medical engineering and ophthalmology, Yi Zhao, combines the wide angle properties of insect vision with the depth-of-field capabilities of a human eye. The 5 mm-wide prototype lens is made up of a series of fluid-filled transparent polymer pockets arranged over a dome that can be contracted and expanded to change the focus and direction of the lens. At present, the fluid is pumped in and out by hand from an external reservoir, but a version made from an active polymer that changes shape in response to electric signals is also in the works. “Our eye can change focus. An insect eye is made of many small optical components that can’t change focus but give a wide view. We can combine the two.” says Yi Zhao, associate professor of bio-medical engineering and ophthalmology at Ohio State. “What we get is a wide-angle lens with depth of field.” The researchers say that tests on the prototype lens to date have demonstrated the ability to shift focus and produce images of varying depth. Further work is being done to make the device smaller and to develop a self-contained shape-changing mechanism, with the aim of eventually licensing the technology to industry through Ohio State‘s Technology Commercialization and Knowledge Transfer Office.

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