You’re probably used to hearing about liquid crystals in television and smartphone screens. However, new research hopes the same technology could be applied to optometry to one day correct blurred vision.
The breakthrough was developed by Devesh Mistry, a postgraduate research student in physics at the University of Leeds. Mistry believes liquid crystals could be used to develop a lens that can focus light in response to movement from the eye.
"As we get older, the lens in our eye stiffens, when the muscles in the eye contract they can no longer shape the lens to bring close objects into focus," said Mistry in a statement. With liquid crystals, "lenses would adjust and focus automatically, depending on the eye muscles’ movement."
These lenses could be implanted into the eye, much like in cataract surgery where a cloudy lens is replaced with an artificial one, in a 10-minute operation under local anesthetic.
"Liquid crystals are a very under-rated phase of matter," he explained to The Times. "Everybody's happy with solids, liquids and gases and the phases of matter, but liquid crystals lie between crystalline solids and liquids. They have an ordered structure like a crystal, but they can also flow like a liquid and respond to stimuli."
Mistry's goal is to have a full prototype ready by the end of his doctorate in 2018. The project collaborates with the Eurolens Research at the University of Manchester and the contact lense manufacturer UltraVision CLPL. They hope the new lenses will be inserted into people’s eyes within a decade.