Science-- there's something for everyone

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Better vision while you sleep

As part of a master’s thesis at the UPC-Barcelona Tech’s College of Optics and Optometry, Jaume PaunĂ© developed a new kind of contact lens that improves vision while you sleep.

Using removable contact lenses rather than refractive surgery (permanent reshaping of the cornea) to correct vision problems is known as orthokeratology (ortho-K). The technique has been used for the last few years to treat myopia, (nearsightedness, or the inability to see far away objects clearly). PaunĂ©’s innovation was to create lenses that also work for hyperopia. Hyperopia (farsightedness) prevents a person from focusing on nearby objects.

The custom-made ortho-K lenses are worn only at night, effectively correcting vision during sleep. The lenses don’t actually touch the cornea, they alter its shape by applying slight pressure to the tear film covering the cornea. This temporary alteration results in improved vision the next morning. I should point out that hyperopia is usually genetic and not the same as age-related farsightedness (presbyopia). The new lenses are not meant to work for presbyopia, more's the pity.