As we age, our joints get stiff, our muscles ache, and we gradually notice a decrease in flexibility. Our eyes begin to change as well. Past the age of 45, our eyes’ lenses lose elasticity and we become farsighted. This condition is known as presbyopia, or the inability to focus on nearby objects.
It is estimated that by 2030, the rates of severe vision loss will double with the aging population. New technological advancements may make it easier for those with aging eyes to see more clearly. Devesh Mistry, a postgraduate student at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom is developing an implantable artificial lens out of liquid crystals. These crystals, which Mistry calls “an underrated phase of matter,” are similar to those in the screens of smartphones and televisions.
The surgical procedure required to implant the lens is supposedly simple and straightforward. The eye surgeon will make an incision in the cornea and use phacoemulsification (ultrasound waves) to break up the old lens. Then, the artificial lens can be inserted. This procedure is also effective in treating cataracts, a clouding of the lens of the eye that can result in blindness.
Mistry is enthusiastic about the possibilities in liquid crystals in the creation of artificial lenses because the crystals function automatically to adjust and focus, according to the muscle movements in the eye. He explained, “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 liquid crystal lens prototype will likely be ready by 2018, and he hopes that it will be introduced to eye surgeons in the next six to 10 years (Source: Medical Daily).