Seeing Clearly By Smartphone

We all want to have a clear picture of important events and see things sharply in focus, but we aren’t always lucky enough for that to be the case. Also as we get older, our arms have to get longer to read the small print. So it’s off to the optometrist that we have to go and out comes that array of expensive kit to gives a few numbers that are the key to our future clarity of vision.

That process is becoming so last century now that Pamplona et al from MIT have launched a start-up using a smartphone app with some cheap optics. $2 for the optics puts this device in the offer you can’t refuse category – if your eye-care specialist has a smartphone, which they will allow you to play with the buttons to align green and red lines (1).

The big expense then comes in choosing the designer frames to go with the lenses. I have a dream of cheap accurate lenses being printed out while you wait using a 3-D printer. Perhaps they could printout the frames at the same time. Soon we’ll all be seeing clearly by smartphone.

But that’s not all! There is more. A sister app uses a similar system which scans the eye to measure the extent and progression of cataracts (2). Of course, the elimination of cataracts can’t be remedied by buying the right pair of reading glasses, but the quick, simple and cheap quantitative diagnosis is a great advance.


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