When you think eye exam, do you wince at the inconvenience of those dilation drops that last 4-24 hours?
Fortunately, most optometrists these days offer the option of imaging technology, which, while not covered by all insurance companies, is noninvasive, typically inexpensive and actually really cool. It’s not every day you get to see your own optic nerve on a full-color monitor.
And that’s just the beginning. Advances in eye care are happening faster than we can blink. Scientists in South Korea are developing and testing soft contact lenses that monitor eyes for symptoms of vision problems, continuously screening eye fluids for signs of diseases from glaucoma to diabetes.
“The idea of a smart contact lens has been explored quite a bit in the wearable device world,” says Dr. Thomas Steinemann of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “An effective electric contact lens able to detect changes in the eye in real time would hold a lot of potential in innovating the way we detect and prevent potentially blinding eye diseases.”
The contacts are made with tiny electronic circuitry, batteries and antennae. The obvious question: are they safe? According to Sang-Young Lee, the lead researcher and professor at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, early testing has shown “no eye irritation such as redness or limitations in field of vision.” However, more extensive research needs to be conducted before the smart lens is made available to the public.
In the meantime, see your eye doctor regularly. A vision plan from your association and AMBA could help you save hundreds on everything from exams to eyewear. Smart contacts aren’t available yet, but you can still do the smart thing and get vision insurance to help ensure you get the regular exams, eyeglasses, or contacts you need.