Eye-Tracking Autofocal Glasses
Presbyopia is the normal loss of near focusing ability that occurs with age. This vision defect plagues most people starting about age 45, as the lenses in the eyes lose the elasticity needed to focus on nearby objects. For some people reading glasses suffice to overcome the difficulty, but for many people the only fix, short of surgery, is to wear progressive lenses.
“More than a billion people have presbyopia and we’ve created a pair of autofocal lenses that might one day correct their vision far more effectively than traditional glasses,” said Stanford electrical engineer Gordon Wetzstein. For now, the prototype looks like virtual reality goggles but the team hopes to streamline later versions.
This prototype works much like the lens of the eye, with fluid-filled lenses that bulge and thin as the field of vision changes. It also includes eye-tracking sensors that triangulate where a person is looking and determine the precise distance to the object of interest. The team did not invent these lenses or eye-trackers, but they did develop the software system that harnesses this eye-tracking data to keep the fluid-filled lenses in constant and perfect focus.
To validate its approach, the Stanford team tested the prototype on 56 people with presbyopia. Test subjects said the autofocus lenses performed better and faster at reading and other tasks. Wearers also tended to prefer the autofocal glasses to the experience of progressive lenses – bulk and weight aside.
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