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Will Bionic Eyes be the Next Step in Vision?

More often than not, medical technology is the precursor for consumer tech. Currently, there is a joint effort between Israeli and American researchers from Stanford University to develop solar-powered retinae that will hopefully cure blindness caused by retinal disease. The implants would stimulate nerve cells in the eye, causing them to function and process data again. While this isn’t being looked at as a cure for blindness at birth, it is a step in the direction of science being in control of replacing or enhancing missing senses.

Things like macular degeneration (usually age related and the leading cause of blindness in older people in the United States) are being heavily researched in order to find technological solutions. While wearing protective lenses now, such as GUNNAR Optiks, might reduce your risk for eye problems in the future, you can’t fight genetics. We spend much more time in front of digital screens, which may lead to earlier eye problems if not protected (such as computer vision syndrome) but if your DNA is pre-coded to have eye problems, there isn’t much you can do. Yet.

A team of DARPA-funded researchers from the United States and Switzerland led by University of California San Diego Professor Joseph Ford have created a telescopic lens. The lens can switch between normal and magnified vision. Right now the application for this lens is macular degeneration (AMD) patients, but one could easily shift the application to consumer technology. I can see Google acquiring the patents and putting the internet in your eyeball. You don’t need science-fiction novels to imagine that happening.

“In the future, it will hopefully be possible to go after the core of the problem with effective treatments or retinal prosthetics,” says Eric Tremblay of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. “The ideal is really for magnifiers to become unnecessary. Until we get there, however, contact lenses may provide a way to make AMD a little less debilitating.” And after AMD is less debilitating, the focus will most likely shift to casual and consumer technology.

It is logical to hypothesize that once an affordable and mass produced bionic eye implant for medical purposes is well established in the market, that bionic eye research will turn to enhancement. Those without medically related eye issues (such as macular degeneration and so on) will be able to purchase bionic eyes to enhance their vision. Anything from being able to zoom, to infrared and anything else you can imagine will be researched. There will be a time when we can replace our boring flesh eyes with bionic eyes capable of things only expressed in science fiction and comics. Until that point though, if you want to enhance your vision without replacing your eyes, GUNNAR Optiks can help.

GUNNAR at Rooster Teeth Expo 2013

If you are a gamer then you know about Rooster Teeth. The gaming centric comedy and entertainment collective hit the big time a few years back with their Red vs. Blue videos. The series is a rip on the interpersonal and battlefield relationships of two teams of Spartan warriors from Halo. Like many other successful properties, Rooster Teeth quickly shot to pop culture stardom which led to a large following and community. This community recently met in Austin, TX for the third annual Rooster Teeth Expo (RTX). GUNNAR Optiks was on hand to educate gamers on Computer Vision Syndrome and the benefits of gaming with GUNNAR glasses.

The three day event featured a full slate of gaming industry panelists and entertainers, with a equally matched expo hall. From exploring the art of video games, to app development and comedy focused panels, RTX was a hit for fans and industry professionals alike. At the GUNNAR Optiks booth fans were given the chance to try on a pair of GUNNAR glasses for themselves and/or purchase at a show special discount. Booth visitors also got to play on the Project Gaems portable gaming rigs. The entire GUNNAR team had a great time at RTX and looks forward to coming back next year.

Be sure to check out the photo gallery below and follow Rooster Teeth on Facebook and Twitter!

RTX 2013 Photo Gallery (for the full set, head over to Facebook)

GUNNAR Supports Healthy Vision Month

 

May is Healthy Vision Month. If you are reading this, then you should be curious about healthy vision month. The reason for this is simple: you have eyes and you use them every day, all day and you are most likely reading this on a digital device screen. The reason this is important is that many people forget that not only is the eye surrounded by muscles, but it has its own rate of degeneration. However, like the National Eye Institute, GUNNAR Optiks is here to help.

Digital eye strain is not just an ergonomic issue. With your eyes continuously refocusing and repositioning themselves, not only does this affect the muscles but can lead to fatigue, dryness, irritation, and other vision problems. As this report from the Vision Council explains, digital eye strain is the most common computer-related repetitive strain injury, even more so than carpal tunnel and tendonitis.  We’re quick to slap on a wrist brace, so why aren’t we as quick to do something to protect our eyes?

According to the National Eye Institute, most people “often do not pay attention to their vision unless they notice a problem.” Part of it is sociological, part of it is just a lack of general education about the issue. Our eyes are responsible for delivering visual inputs to our brains – as if this isn’t obvious. Protecting them and ensuring that they are functioning without strain should be our first concern if we are staring at digital devices all day long. The Vision Council report mentioned above goes on to outline all the issues that can be caused by poor eye ergonomics including back and neck problems, headaches and blurred vision. All this can contribute to eventual vision problems in the non-digital areas of your life.

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So what can you do to prevent future eye problems and relieve current eye strain and stress?

The first step is to get an eye exam. This will quickly determine your overall eye health and if you need corrective lenses or not. Before you buy a pair of GUNNAR glasses, you’ll want to know if you need them in prescription or not. Most eye exams and prescription glasses (including GUNNARS) are covered in part by HSA/FSA benefits. Sure, there is a stigma attached to getting glasses but would you rather adhere to some vague social stereotype or see the world perfectly?

For many of us, our world is a constant series of monitors, backlit displays, tablets and mobile phones. From when we wake in the morning to when we turn off the light for the night. How many hours per day, per week do you spend in front of a digital screen? All this time, absorbing harsh light that our eyes haven’t properly adapted to defend against, can be a serious strain on the eyes. Even with corrective lenses, everyone using digital devices should consider the ergonomics of doing so.

Ergonomics isn’t just about making sure you are sitting up straight. In many corporate environments, ergonomics is a serious issue. Many employers (maybe even yours) goes to great lengths to not only educate their employees about proper ergonomics, but they may also provide you with the equipment you need to have the most ergonomic workstation. This can range from a proper chair, to wrist rests to a new pair of GUNNAR glasses.

Healthy Vision Month is a month to take stock of what your vision means to you and what you would do to protect it. From getting an eye exam, to setting yourself up at work in a visually ergonomic workstation and so on, visual health is just as important to your daily life as everything else you worry about. The difference is, finding a healthy resolve for your eyes might be as easy as a new pair of GUNNAR Optiks.