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Question Your World: What's the Future of Vision Correction?

A long time ago our natural limitations were addressed by using technology.  Stone weapons and fire revolutionized the way we live regardless of our natural limitations. Since then science has advanced a lot more and evolved our lives in the process. How about vision? What's the next step in correcting our visual limitations? Listen to this Question Your World radio report produced by the Science Museum of Virginia to learn more.

Our natural limitations have guided our technological growth for hundreds of thousands of years. We're not strong enough to take down a mammoth on our own, but through the use of tools we could provide a feast for the family. We can't swim with safety to get from one side of a body of water to another, but with boats we sure can do it easily. Our speed is not the greatest on the planet, but when behind the wheel of a car we certainly zip around just fine. All of these limitations have led to the inventions that make our lives what they are. Another example is our vision. Those with poor vision were once doomed to being the weak links in a group, but thanks to glasses, contacts, and corrective surgery we've overcome the visual limitations.

"Four eyes", "Window Face", and "Sir Specs-a-lot" are some names used to describe those that wear glasses. Keep in mind, everyone has feelings and hurting them is not nice, but regardless these are nicknames for those with vision problems. Wearing glasses is just one of the many ways to deal with visual impairments. Some cases are much more extreme at require surgery or altering one's life all together. Well, that could all change if these scientists from UC Berkley have anything to say about the future of visual correction.

These visionary innovators have been working on a different way of correcting vision and it does not even require physically touching the patient at all. A new vision correcting algorithm was tested out to show how math and computers can account for vision impairments. An algorithm that factors in the variables of the user's optical schematics can figure out how to display the screen to make everything appear in focus and in clear view. Literally every pixel on the screen would be changed to suit the needs of the user based on their vision. This means that others looking at the screen would see something rather funky, but to the user things will appear crystal clear.

This is a big step forward in vision correction considering how ubiquitous screens are in our lives now. You're reading this one a screen right now and billions of other people are looking at other screens (computers, monitors, smart phones, tablets, and so on) at this very second. This technology would allow individuals with extreme vision impairments to be able to function on screens just like everyone else. This opens up the possibility of working jobs that rely on screens and enhance the ability to use other screened devices for regular day to day use.

As of now this technology is still being tested, but these developers feel that this is a great step forward in allowing for some natural limitations to be overcome life altering problems and create a more productive and functional existence. Future applications could lead to even greater possibilities. Perhaps this is the first step towards having mobile vision correcting headsets or screens that account for multiple people's visual data. Imagine vast walls of information catered to every individual set of eyes that look at the screen. These are some big tasks that lay ahead, but fortunately these scientists have a real clear focus on this project!

Article by: Prabir Mehta, Science Museum of Virginia

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