Tiny telescopes have long been mounted on glasses to help visually impaired people perform tasks, such as driving. But many potential users have resisted using them due to their appearance, whereby the lens is mounted atop the regular lens or above the frame. Moreover, the magnified view through the telescope is narrow.
Now, scientists at Schepens Eye Research Institute have redesigned the tiny telescopes, by embedding a wide-field telescope made of straight and curved mirrors within the glasses' spectacle lens. "This new design has several advantages," said Dr. Eli Peli, a senior scientist at Schepens Eye Research Institute and professor at Harvard Medical School, who invented the glasses. "One major advantage is the appearance of the glasses. Because they look almost like normal everyday spectacles, it is more likely that visually impaired people will use them," he added.
Most important, shifting the magnified view up leaves the unmagnified view of the road unobstructed, which is important for safety and facilitates navigation. The in-the-lens design will also make it possible to mass-produce the telescopic magnifier as a standard spectacle lens blank, thus allowing an individual's prescription to be added using the standard procedure for grinding regular spectacle lenses.