Vision correction: Coming to a screen near you?
It seems like modern-day computers and devices can do anything—and we may soon be able to add "vision correction" to the list of technological capabilities. In the future, ODs could be prescribing vision-correcting displays to their patients.
Computer and vision scientists at the University of California, Berkeley are creating vision-correcting displays that allow the user to see clearly without the need for his or her glasses or contact lenses. The displays do so through computer algorithms that compensate for an individual's vision impairment.
"I think the concept of vision-correcting displays is exciting, and there is definitely a market for it," says Trennda Rittenbach, O.D., member of the AOA's Evidence-Based Optometry Committee.
"This could potentially be a realistic means of technology to help people with refractive errors to read and view devices without correction," Dr. Rittenbach adds.
Fu-Chung Huang, Ph.D., lead author and computer scientist, believes the project is significant because it offers a non-invasive means of vision correction that uses computation rather than optics. Dr. Huang also notes that researchers hope to extend the application to multiple corrections on a shared screen, so that people with varying visual problems would be able to view the same screen and see a clear image.
Practicality of vision-correcting displays
Dr. Rittenbach believes vision-correcting displays would be similar to Google Glass in terms of prescribing, adding "There will be certain doctors who take a progressive approach to clinical care using technology and will embrace the vision-correcting displays."
On a practical level, Dr. Rittenbach believes vision-correcting displays have the potential to have a positive impact on people's daily lives—both at the office and at home.
"It would be great if people could have vision-correcting displays at their offices or places of employment so as to not have to wear contact lenses, which can lead to dry eye syndrome due to a decreased blink rate while working at a computer," says Dr. Rittenbach.
However, Dr. Rittenbach notes that people with large refractive errors would still need glasses or contact lenses for vision correction if they have to drive to and from their workstations during the day.
"Unfortunately, I don't think we will be able to substitute these displays for glasses or contact lenses because people will still need refractive correction to drive and see distance objects in their daily lives," Dr. Rittenbach adds.
Vision-correcting displays also would benefit people who like to read in bed. For example, it would be helpful for people who take out their contact lenses before bed but still want to read on an e-reader or watch a movie on a tablet.
"Consumers today have very high expectations of a crystal-clear view with things like the retinal display in iPhone products, so it will be interesting to see if the developers will be able to meet those expectations," Dr. Rittenbach adds.