Have you ever stopped to realize how amazing it is that just about all complex life on Earth has developed an organ that can translate light into information that can be processed to fundamentally run the way we live? Other organs can do pretty amazing things, but just imagine where we would be without the ability to see. They say the eyes are the window to the soul, but if you think about it, looking through them the other way is a window to an entire universe.
The study of vision has been around for a very, very long time. Since the invention of the first pair of spectacles, we have come a long way, with the invention of contact lenses and laser therapy. Now, researchers are finding ways not only to correct degenerating vision, but to improve it beyond its human capabilities.
Some interesting facts about vision
Humans aren’t born with complete vision. When we are born, our eyes can only distinguish between black and white mainly (and a little bit of red). It takes a few months for color vision to develop properly, and we slowly gain the ability to see one extra color at a time.
A fully grown eye is the equivalent of a 576 megapixel digital camera. That’s over 5 times some of the best cameras available at the moment. Your eyes operate for about 16 hours non-stop, far beyond the battery life of any digital camera.
Current possibilities for improving vision
With all the remarkable features of our eyes, is there even anything we need to improve on? Unfortunately yes, the eye is prone to a number of diseases and conditions that can affect its sight. But there are major advancements being made in the treatment of eye conditions, such as DNA repair and retinal implants for people suffering from genetic and retinal conditions.
Scientists are also currently working on a bionic lens that can be implanted in place of the natural one and can give better than 20/20 vision and zoom capability. Another neat little technology under development is the insertion of nanoparticles into the eye to allow infrared vision.
So what’s with the bionic implants?
The bionic lens, developed by a company called Ocumetrics, is designed to replace the natural lens in the eye. It can be inserted by a painless, 8-minute surgery and produce astounding results! At the moment, the technology allows a person to see three times better than normal human vision, but the company is expecting to make further advancements. The Ocumetric Lens is not yet available to the public because it is awaiting regulatory approval, but that means that the technology is already here and being tested.
How about infrared nanoparticles?
If seeing a whole different spectrum of light is more up your alley, you might be interested in some scientists who recently inserted nanoparticles into the eyes of mice to give them infrared vision. What exactly is infrared vision? Well, if you’ve seen those films where they track people using their heat signatures or watched documentaries about how snakes hunt, you can consider infrared vision a very similar concept. It allows you to actually see differences in heat across small areas, like on a person’s body. What’s the point? Well, it could be used to check if someone has a fever, or if the car engine is overheating, or if the food is burning e.t.c.