Could the screens on your tablet or computer correct your vision problems? That’s the question researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and MIT are trying to answer.
Think about your family and close friends. How many of them use either glasses or contacts on a daily basis? Odds are you know quite a few people who have a vision problem that requires corrective lenses. Now think about how often you get online to read an article or watch a video on your tablet or phone. It’s most likely every day, probably for at least a couple hours. In the United States, over half the population needs some sort of vision correction, with myopia, or nearsightedness, as the leading reason. Nearsightedness affects a person’s ability to focus on distant objects, and without corrective lenses it can be problematic when a person is trying to read or watch television. Right now, we correct vision problems with glasses or contacts, but in the near future you may not need your glasses when reading an article on your phone or tablet.
Engineers have developed a prototype tablet display that compensates for an individual’s vision problems. The system works by using software to alter light from each individual pixel on the screen, based on a person’s glasses prescription. The team developed an algorithm that adjusts the intensity of the light emanating from each pixel to fit the different visual needs of users. A pinhole cover over the screen alters the light as it comes out, compensating for a users visual impairment. Essentially, the screen counteracts what your eyes are already doing to change the light. The prototype used an iPod with a digital single-lens reflex camera used to simulate a farsighted person, with impressive results.
Glasses and contact lenses are designed to correct for how a nearsighted or farsighted person’s eyes improperly refract light. So basically, the team has developed a way to put the glasses on the screen, rather than on your face.
The technology is still in the process of being developed. Right now, the de-blurring effects only work in a very narrow viewing angle, and they only work with one prescription at a time. That is, if two people with different prescriptions are watching the same screen, only one of them will be able to benefit from it. Still, the research does have great potential in the field of vision correction, and may have applications in glasses-free 3D imaging, as well. The team also has hopes that further research will lead to treatments for rarer and more difficult to treat vision issues.
Obviously this doesn’t mean glasses or contacts are going anywhere. People will still need them for other aspects of their everyday life, but imagine how nice it would be to take your glasses off when you sit down to start reading a book on your tablet.
At OCLI, we’re always looking to bring you the newest and best advances in eye care and vision treatments. If you would like more information on our services, please contact us today.