Technology and the Future of Vision

The best estimations suggest the less than half the population possesses 20/20 vision. That means there is a good chance that you don’t either. It also brings into question what it even means to have perfect vision.

20/20 literally means that a person can see at 20 feet what they should see at 20 feet. By contrast, 20/40 vision means that a person can see at 20 feet what they should see at 40 feet.

eye vision

There are far too many diseases that diminish vision we cannot effectively treat right now. But that does not mean that no progress has been made.

Glaucoma is no longer a death sentence for your vision as it was a few years ago. We have better medications that control pressure. Detached retinas can be reattached in some cases. Macular Degeneration can be treated in a doctor’s office. Here are just a few of the ways we are preserving and increasing vision for most of the population:

Better Eyewear

Eyewear technology has come a long way. We can build prescriptions into just about everything we wear over our eyes. That goes for items as frivolous as gaming headsets. You can even get prescription safety glasses online if you know where to look.

Advances in prescription eyewear means that lenses are getting a lot thinner. And they can fit in places that were not possible before. That means you can have perfect vision in more places than before. And that can make all the difference between doing what you love for a living, and settling for a very different life.

Myopia is one of the common causes of less than perfect vision. And it is one of the many things we can look forward to effectively treating in the future. But there are some things we can do for it right now. If it has been a while since you have seen your optometrist, you need to make an appointment and see if some of these advances in glasses and contacts can boost your vision.

Low-vision Aids

There is a big difference between less than perfect vision and low vision. The majority of the population has less than perfect vision. But a much smaller group has what professionals would categorize as low-vision. There are those who need glasses to drive, and those who can’t drive at all regardless of prescription.

For low-vision sufferers, prescription glasses are a start. But they leave a lot to be desired, especially if one desires to see street signs as they walk, or read overhead menus at quick-service restaurants, or read the small print on a computer or smartphone.

Today, one can fill those desires via high-tech, low-vision aids such as eSight glasses. They operate much like a pair of autofocus bioptics in that they allow a person to see clearly up close or at a distance without the necessity of user interaction. They can magnify a computer monitor, or even take the place of that monitor, putting the image directly into the display over your eyes.

There isn’t much low-vision aids can’t do these days. They just can’t do it affordably. The glasses mentioned above cost $10,000 at the time of this writing. Less ambitious devices will still run you around $3,000 and up. But possibility precedes affordability. And there is very little left to the impossible at this time. Affordability can’t be far behind.

Computer Vision

Even the totally blind are not left completely out of the picture. Thanks to efforts by companies like Google, computers are almost competent at correctly identifying and describing random, mundane objects for people with no vision at all.

While accessibility was not the focus of the demonstrations, Android P as shown off at Google I/O 2018 gave us a glimpse into things like automatic OCR built right into the smartphone camera. It is a short step from there to have a common piece of consumer electronics like a cheap Android smartphone that can read things aloud to you just by pointing the camera at a piece of text, or scanning a room and telling you exactly where you laid your keys. That is not science fiction. That is very near future.

Thanks to advances in glasses and contacts, more people can have perfect vision in more places more of the time. Thanks to technologically advanced low-vision aids, more people can experience functional vision than ever before. And in the very near future, even the blind will have the benefits of an audio-described world thanks to advances in computer vision. The future of vision has never looked brighter.