Considering The Possibility of Smart Contacts

Smart ContactsThe article Mission Impossible Now Possible with Google Glass describes a scene from the movie Mission Impossible 2 and talks about how the smart sunglasses shown in the movie represents technology actually within reach for the average person.

Let’s take a look at another technology featured in this movie series, specifically in Mission ImpossibleGhost Protocol where viewers are introduced to contact lenses that print whatever the agent looks at when he blinks twice.

Can contact lenses really be that smart?

As we step out of fiction and back into reality, we once again see that the two aren’t so far apart. In fact, smart contacts and related technology involving the eyes may not take pictures or help you remember someone’s name (yet), but they could help save your vision and even your life.

Consider the following smart contact technology currently being developed…

  • Triggerfish by Sensimed – a wirelessly powered contact lens built to continuously measure the curvature of the eye in patients with glaucoma.
  • Daniel Kohanes lens – designed to treat disease by slowly releasing drugs into the eye.
  • Googles smart contacts – house a sensor that measures the glucose levels in tears.
  • EyeSense – developing products that embed sensors in the eye to measure glucose levels.
  • Freedom Meditech – exploring measuring glucose levels through the eye by using light.

Concerns over this technology includes the impact of the technology itself on eye health, the security of the data collected, and the potentially fatal consequences of wrong amounts of medication being dispersed. All of these challenges must be satisfactorily resolved before the technology is made accessible for everyday use.

But the potential is mind blowing. No more remembering to put in eye drops. No more painful finger pricking for diabetics. Wearable technology holds the potential for making life a lot easier and significantly less painful for the nearly 385 million people worldwide with diabetes and the 20.5 million with cataracts.

And helping these individuals is just a start. Researchers would like to see smart contacts and/or related technology that also tests blood alcohol levels and cholesterol too, among other goals.

Who knows, maybe they’ll also make it possible to take pictures and do even more with your contacts. Turns out that technology is currently a reality too! (See Google Patents Contact Lens Camera, Will Help the Blind and Create Superhumans)

For additional information on this developing technology, check out the articles “Smart Contactsand “Googles smart contact lense: What it does and how it works.”

3D and Vision Health

3D TV

While 3D technology has been around for over a decade,  it’s only made its way into the home fairly recently. Along with it comes concern over vision health, especially for young viewers. But is that concern justifiable?

Consumer Reports says no evidence currently supports the concern that prolonged or frequent viewing of 3D content could cause eye problems for most users. But, there are cautions involving specific groups of individuals.

Who Should be Cautious When Viewing 3D?

  • Individuals using handheld 3D devices. In a Consumer Reports article, the American Optometric Association says that “due to closer viewing distance, handheld 3D devices actually place higher demands on the eyes than do movies, so more frequent breaks are recommended.”
  • Young children. Nintendo 3D warns against use for children under 6 because of possibly causing vision damage in developing eyes, but experts say children over the age of 3 can view 3D safely.
  • The elderly. Aging eyes naturally become increasingly sensitive to glare and require higher contrast than younger eyes.
  • Children & adults with a family history of epilepsy.  “What are the Dangers of 3D Glassesexplains that these individuals may be at risk of a seizure or stroke due to the bright, flashing light portrayed in a 3D environment.

While no research exists supporting permanent damage specifically from viewing 3D, keep in mind that 3D glasses do manipulate eyes to see images on the screen as 3D, and this can cause eye strain, headaches, blurred vision, disorientation and nausea.

Eye Strain NOT a Problem Unique to 3D Viewing

In fact, HealthGuidance says that “watching any TV can cause some problems with eye strain and the reason for this is that eyes have to constantly adjust to changes in brightness and contrast.”

Prolonged 3D viewing as well as increased strain during the “training period” eyes go through when you first begin watching 3D on a regular basis DO cause eye strain, so be sure to use the following guidelines to ease that strain.

Note that many of these tips also apply to prolonged viewing any other type of screen (computer, regular television, etc.) as well.

  • Consider watching 3D at the theater when possible. Viewing theater 3D is not as bad for your eyes probably because of the fixed position of the audience along with the larger screen size.
  • Know what you’re watching. HealthGuidance says, “Things converted from 2D to 3D are often worse because they were never designed to be viewed in 3D and so have the biggest changes in depth.”
  • Take regular breaks. Allow eyes time to relax, especially when first start watching 3D to allow your eyes to be “trained” to view 3D.
  • Make adjustments. Lower the contrast & brightness on ALL TVs, so the TV won’t affect the brightness of the entire room, which means eyes have less adapting to do.
  • Use good habits for reducing eye strain in general. Understand the importance of Preventing & Reducing Eye Strain as well as Managing Electronic Display Eye Strain.
  • Consider viewing distance. 3D University.net says to, “Remember that viewing distance should be 3x or more the height of the screen.”
  • Sit with eyes level with the screen.
  • Have overall soft lighting in the room when watching 3D TV.
  • Turn off fluorescent lighting.
  • Block sources of direct sunlight before watching in 3D mode.
  • Rest eyes by looking away occasionally during your 3D viewing time.
  • Consider placement of your TV set for optimal lighting conditions.

Also, remember that watery eyes or any visual discomfort on a long-term basis while watching 3D or at any other time should be addressed with your physician since people who have problems with 3D viewing may have underlying issues caused by an undiagnosed eye problem. Again, no evidence suggests 3D viewing causes these long-term problems.

The key for 3D viewing – and really for ANY screen viewing – is moderation. To find out more about 3D viewing and eye health, check out the 3D Vision and Eye Health FAQ provided by the American Optometric Association.

STAY Safe in Extreme Cold

Those living in certain places of the world like the upper Midwest United States, Canada and Russia expect cold and snow as part of their normal yearly weather cycle. But a Polar Vortex has individuals living in these places and many others experiencing frigid temperatures thatCold Weather present even the most seasoned cold-weather dwellers with a need to plan more than usual for safety in extreme cold.

To help create the proper mindset, keep the word “stay” in mind for managing life in extreme cold temperatures (anything near or below freezing).

STAY Aware

  • Regularly watch local weather reports, especially paying attention to windchill temperatures and storm warnings.
  • Know the warning signs of hypothermia and frostbite and be educated on what to do should either occur.
  • Keep road conditions in mind at all times, and adjust driving speed accordingly since getting stranded in extreme cold is especially dangerous.
  • Check the condition of water pipes, doing what you can to keep them from freezing and breaking.
  • Know when going outside is a bad idea, and stay inside as much as possible.
  • Realize that cold affects the elderly and the very young more quickly and more severely, so make sure they stay out of extreme cold and check in on them often.
  • Don’t forget that extreme cold is dangerous for pets too.
  • Help road crews out, and avoid travel immediately after heavy snowfalls.

STAY Prepared

  • Have a week’s worth of food and water should weather conditions prevent a trip to the store.
  • Have a well-stocked Winter Home Emergency Supply Kit at home and a Winter Emergency Car Kit in trunks of all vehicles, and check them regularly to make sure they stay well-supplied.
  • Insulate pipes if freezing is a concern, and know what to do if pipes freeze .
  • Make sure all vehicles are properly winterized with gas tanks kept always at least half full.
  • Keep sunglasses handy when driving, especially when clouds clear and the sun starts reflecting off the snow.
  • Always travel with a fully-charged cell phone should you become stranded and need to call for help.
  • Let others know your specific travel plans (route, timing, etc.), so you can get help as soon as possible should your vehicle break down or get stuck in the snow.

STAY Warm & Dry

  • If you need to go outside, remember that the chances of hypothermia increase when clothing is wet.
  • Wear several loose-fitting layers, including water-repellent gear.
  • Keep in mind that sweating dampens clothes, and that wet clothing can lower body temperature and contribute to hypothermia.
  • Remove wet clothing as soon as possible, having spares available when you know you’ll be outside.
  • Remember to keep extremities covered as they are more susceptible to frostbite.
  • Don’t forget to cover your mouth also, since extreme cold can hurt the lungs.
  • Especially in extreme temperatures caused by windchill, cover every part of skin since frostbite can occur in a matter of minutes.
  • Be sure to dress in layers, which traps warm air that acts as insulation.
  • Wear a hat since 40% of body heat can escape through the head.
  • Keep hands warm and functional at the same time by choosing the proper gloves for use in extreme cold.
  • Make sure heating sources are adequately fueled and maintained at all times.

Prevention still remains the best solution for surviving extreme cold temperatures no matter where you live. When frigid arctic air decides to stick around for any length of time, STAY healthy and safe by preventing emergencies whenever possible and by knowing the best course of action when they do happen.