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FDA Approves First Contact Lenses That Turn Dark In Bright Sunlight ( 104

The first photochromic contact lenses have been approved by the FDA. "A unique additive will automatically darken the lenses when they're exposed to bright light," reports Interesting Engineering, citing a FDA statement. "The lenses will clear up whenever they're back in normal or darker lighting conditions." From the report: "This contact lens is the first of its kind to incorporate the same technology that is used in eyeglasses that automatically darken in the sun," said Malvina Eydelman. Eydelman serves as director of the division of ophthalmic, and ear, nose and throat devices at the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health. The FDA approved the technology after extensive trials and clinical studies. One study had 24 wearers use the contacts while driving in both daytime and nighttime settings. The FDA found that there were no problems with driving performance or issues with vision while wearing those contact lenses. In total, over 1,000 patients were involved in the various studies conducted by the FDA. According to current plans, these photochromic lenses should be available for those needing them by the first half of 2019.
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FDA Approves First Contact Lenses That Turn Dark In Bright Sunlight

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  • First reading of "FDA Approves First Contact Lenses That Turn Dark Into Bright Sunlight" was incorrect.

    But I want contact lenses that compress the EM spectrum from UV to microwaves into visual spectrum. So you can see IR, and the world at night is usually illuminated with UV. So outside dark would be UV illuminated, and indoor dark would be IR illuminated. Night vision in contact lenses. When do I get that?
    • at night. As I've gotten older I'm hyper sensitive to light and my vision quality's gone down. The two combined can sometimes almost completely blind me at night (between folks lights and already less than perfect vision). I'm guessing by my mid-50s I won't be able to drive at night...
      • by Rob Lister ( 4174831 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2018 @05:50AM (#56456941)
        You are describing the first symptoms of cataracts. I just had cataract surgery so I know what you're experiencing. Having the surgery is like getting teenage eyesight back. I can even make out the color bands on 1/8th ohm resistors again.
        • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

          Yep. Not only is it fast to get done, but if you need reading glasses they can even put in new lenses that fall into the multi-focal range. My dad had his eyes done a few years ago at 60ish, for him it was pretty much a life changing event especially since his eyes had gotten so bad he couldn't even go star gazing anymore.

          The big problem I'm seeing these days though is with all the new LED lights, they're mounted high on poles and seem to be angled so that they blind you when you're approaching them. I g

      • I agree you should be checked for cataracts but also, road and vehicle lighting is much worse these days. LED street and stop lights are cranked full blast all night leading to major glare on both eyes and windshield, especially if raining. Itâ(TM)s awful. The worst are emergency vehicles, which after stopping leave the full flashers/strobes going. If someone walked in front of my car as I was passing an accident or pull-over I would be unable to see them until I hit them. This attitude of blinding dri

    • So, knowing that it's pretty easy to make a monochromatic sensor that is succeptible to IR and/or UV (and pretty easy to reject/pass wavelength ranges), I figured there would be Bayer patterned hyper-spectral sensor packages and cameras aplenty, making it easy to build this sort of goggle setup via chromatic tone mapping.

      I know that NASA built IR-mapping goggles (think less sensitive nightvision) for their firefighters, as hydrogen fires are hard to see in the visible spectrum (mild blue).

      I was wrong about

    • Hell... thats half the reason I'm still resentful that the nerd-hating hipster brigade managed to so effectively torpedo Google Glass. Sure, it was half-baked and over priced as released. But it was the obvious first step towards Terminator & Predator vision, dammit. Realistically, IR & UV cameras plus ultrasound and maybe LIDAR, all feeding into a A/R HUD overlay, is a bit more realistic than contacts that do magic things with the EM spectrum, I would think.

      (Unless, perhaps, those contacts are a

      • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
        But Google Glass wasn't AR. AR with a UV overlay would be great, but Glass was a tiny display, out of the main visual path, not like VR goggles, which block 100% and when used for AR, re-send the environment, along with the augmentation.
    • That would be awesome, but I don't think there's a way to do it without a powered receptor and emitter setup, which just won't fit into contacts yet. You'd need a material with nanoparticles that fluoresce when exposed to IR, but only when there's very little visible light. It might be a little easier with UV if there's a material that could slow down the incoming waves enough to red-shift them into the visible spectrum.
  • Danger (Score:5, Funny)

    by jargonburn ( 1950578 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2018 @10:30PM (#56456071)
    But will they turn dark in the face of danger?
  • Unsupported version.

  • Imagine driving during the day and entering a dark tunnel with these on. When you do it with sun glasses on you immediately rip them off so you don't crash. There are other less extreme high contrast situations where these might turn dark when you want to see in the shadows. I can't see how these would be allowed for safety reasons.
    • by erice ( 13380 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2018 @10:46PM (#56456111) Homepage

      Doesn't matter. They won't darken at all in a car. The react to UV and the windshield blocks UV. This is the same way that photosensitive eyeglasses work. If, like me, you only wear glasses when driving, the photosensitivity is completely useless.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Actually, the photosensitive glasses can react to UV light. All the ones that I used / see my friends use does.
        But google results says "Some photochromic lenses also react to visible light" (eg ) so may be that's not as ubiquitous as I thought.

        Don't know which type the contact lenses would be tho.

        • by erice ( 13380 )

          I've owned two pairs. Neither reacted to visible light. I even asked about this last time and the shop didn't have any that reacted to visible light.

      • Doesn't matter. They won't darken at all in a car. The react to UV and the windshield blocks UV.

        I found this out (unfortunately) after the single time I bought photochromic eyeglass lenses.

        It’s the situation where auto-darkening lenses would come in the handiest, but they don’t work. I guess I should’ve done my homework beforehand.

      • That is exactly why I don't bother with transition glasses. The main time I need sunglasses is when I am driving, exactly the condition when they don't work. If I had kept with a convertible they would be fine. Also where I live, if I were to explore the outdoors, I would be in the forest where it is rather shady.

    • If this is a legitimate problem then you have a very poorly designed lighting system in your tunnel.

      Also you do realise these aren't your pitch black stare at the sun welding glasses right? They only have a limited range of tonal variation.

  • So, when we make first contact with aliens, the lenses will turn dark?

    Or am I misreading the heading...?

  • I don't know about you, but I can't wait until everyone is walking around with soulless black eyes just like Zuckerbot.

    • Wouldn't it make sense to only darken the central part i.e. the bit over the pupil?

      There would be no point in darkening the iris unless you wanted soulless black eyes just like a Zuckerbot...

  • Being out in bright sunlight and seeing those lens wearers with weird blanked out eyes. Who will be the first one shot by some redneck with the excuse "Ah thort they was'n alien or a zombie, so I blasted that there creepy-eyed f*ck*r"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 17, 2018 @11:27PM (#56456211)

    I'd like something I read in a science fiction book - contacts or glasses that block direct sunlight.

    The glasses know where my pupils are, and where the sun is. Each lens automatically draws an opaque disk onto itself, between the eye's pupil the sun. If I turn my head, each lens draws its disk in a new location, blocking the direct sunlight from entering my eye's pupil.

    Those glasses would be handy on a non-hazy day, when I'm driving towards the sun.

    • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

      I've been saying for a couple of decades that I want to see car windshields do that. And it would be really easy to do on that scale.

      • by rl117 ( 110595 )
        There's a problem with the technology though. It darkens principally in response to UV exposure, not ambient daylight. Normally they correlate, but you can be in thick cloud where it's grey and not at all bright, but the UV level is still very high. Under this type of condition, the lens turns black and it's like night time, with the world barely visible. In a car windscreen, that would be positively dangerous.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Steve Mann and his EyeTap work included this for a specialist AR application.

      Specifically a HDR welding mask to occlude the bright tip of a welding rig.

  • I gave contacts a try, but I just could not tolerate sticking myself in the eye to put them in. And besides, at the time they were not very good at correcting both nearsightedness and astigmatism at the same time. Add to that the need for bifocals for close reading. Discovered that when I had to start taking my glasses off to read small print.

    Anyway, the permanent imprints on my nose from 45+ years of wearing spectacles will remain until I die.

    • I am both myopic and have an astigmatism. The lenses are weighted to align them. They're gas-permeable, seconds to pop in, a blink to eject. Being hard, they help shape the cornea. so they're far superior to soft. Being permeable, it's quite safe to sleep with them in. As I've grown older, I double-dialed my acuity to read with my right and drive with my left. The brain handles the difference just fine. I've been on various iterations of hard lenses for 40 years and for me it's never been a problem.

  • by Torvac ( 691504 )
    afaik and im not a doctor, your eyes will slowly lose their own ability to adapt to light/dark if you use glasses or lenses like this.
    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      Funny enough, I heard the same thing about the auto-darkening eyeglasses that came out several years back. They worked great when you first got them, but after a few years they stop darkening as well and develop a permanent yellow tinge when they're "clear". I guess this wouldn't matter so much if they were disposable contacts you only wore for 3-6 months.

    • If it's a muscle that contracts the pupil, then it might atrophy, but then it could be exercised and restored later.
  • I tried those autochange lenses on eye glasses. It's annoying like indoor in movie theat(re/er)s, meeting rooms, etc. I'd rather control them myself with external shades.

  • I find that when wearing sunglasses if I drive into a tunnel I have to take them off. This even applies to the light sensitive sunglasses that took quite a long time to lighten up - much longer than most tunnels. Unless these react much quicker than the old ones I would see this as a problem.
  • I'm only far sighted in my right eye, so I just wear one contact. For a brief moment I thought "Oh this sounds like it might be nice." And then realized this wouldn't go well for me (unless I started wearing a sun monocle?).
  • by sad_ ( 7868 )

    cool that we can do this, but why? can't you just wear sunglasses, i bet that's a cheaper option.

  • It may be a bit off-putting to see someone's irises turn black, no?
  • Contact Lenses are primarily for vanity purposes. So you can correct your vision without the need of noticeable glasses.
    However having your eyes turn black when it is light outside will make you look rather odd.
    Sunglasses make you look cool.
    Black contact lenses make you look like you are on drugs or something is wrong with you.

    • Contact Lenses are primarily for vanity purposes.

      You must have paid someone to type what you said, because nobody that stupid could handle a computer. Contact lenses provide drastically better vision, over a full field of view, without secondary reflections, without distortion, without stress on nose or ears... ahhh, forget it. You're beyond help.

  • Certain situations don't accommodate such action well.

    I first got glasses that did this in the 70's. I was a 2-way radio tech at the time. I'd get into a trunk of some cop car where the radio was, it was fairly dark, and because the car was outside in the sun, my glasses were dark and I couldn't see squat about what I was doing. Got rid of such glasses at the next prescription change. Contacts might be a little harder to change out for clear ones than glasses.

  • It will be interesting to know how fast those lenses react to sudden changes of light. For example when driving from a dark tunnel right into sunny open road conditions or vice-verse.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.