It really is amazing just how far we have progressed over the years. We’ve come a long way since the crude corrective lenses that were first created in 13th century Italy [1]. Since then, our glasses have become more refined, we’ve invented contact lenses, and even use lasers to correct vision. But now, the next wave in eye care has come along; no lenses, no lasers, just good old fashion eye drops.

Blurry Vision? You’re Not Alone

eye drops

Well, old fashion might not be the correct term, but these newly developed eye drops could replace glasses and surgery for good.

According to the Vision Council of America, around 75% of adults wear some sort of corrective lenses, be it glasses, contacts, or a combination of both [2]. Wearing glasses has little to no effect on a person’s day-to-day life as long as they see their optometrist regularly and monitor their eyesight. When it comes to contact lenses, these can create more issues and health problems.

Besides the tediousness of having to put in lenses, 45% of Americans don’t replace their lenses when they’re supposed to. That’s not all, 29.8% of adolescents, 33.3% of young adults, and 32.9% of adults admitted to napping or sleeping in contacts and 6 in 7 lens-wearers admitted to at least one practice that puts them at serious risk for infection [3].

The 3 most common vision problems that are corrected with glasses and contact lenses are myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism [4]. Our vision is possible because of 4 major parts of the eye: the cornea, the lens, and the retina. The cornea is the top layer of the eye where all light must pass through. The lens works with the cornea to fine-tune vision and the retina is a complex layer of cells that react to light.

When we look at the world, scattered light merges together and is focused on the retina. The image of whatever we’re looking at must shrink and curve to match the shape of the retina. Reaction to the light is sent from the retina to the brain where it’s translated into the image that we see.

Myopia occurs when the image we are looking at is focused before it can reach the retina; objects that are close are visible and in focus, while objects farther away are blurry. Hyperopia occurs when the image doesn’t come into focus before it gets to the retina; close objects are blurry, but objects that are farther away are clear. With astigmatism, the lens or cornea is distorted so light creates two focal points instead of one; more curvature in one direction than in another results in blurred vision at all distances.

Glasses and contact lenses were created to correct these problems, and it’s quite simple when it comes down to it. The lens itself is made up of two rounded prisms joined together. Prisms are always thicker at one end and light passing through it is bent/refracted towards the thicker end. When it comes to myopia, the lenses are concave; it spreads the light away from the center of the lens and moves the focal point up to the retina. For hyperopia, the lens is convex; it bends the light towards the bottom and top of the lens, pushing the focal point back to the retina.

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Contacts work similarly, but the reason they are much smaller and thinner is because they actually rest on your eye, and not about a ½ inch away like with glasses. Because of their proximity to the eye, the optic zone of contact lenses (the central part of the lenses that contains the corrective power) can be made much smaller than the optic zone of eyeglass lenses [5].

The Future Is Clear: Eye Drops

eye drops

These new eye drops [6], developed by a team of Ophthalmologists at Shaare Zedek Medical Center and Bar-Ilan University’s Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials could make glasses and lenses a thing of the past. The eye drops, a solution of nanoparticles, is being referred to as ‘nanodrops’ and have been successfully tested on the cornea of a pig. Clinical trial can begin as early as later this year.

The experiment, lead by Dr. Smadja and his colleagues, looked at the refractive errors in the eyes of a pig before and after the applying the nano drops. These eye drops are filled with different concentrations of synthetic nanoparticles. After applying the drops, there was a marked improvement in error correction for both myopia and hyperopia. If tests on humans prove successful, prospective users of the nanodrops can use a smartphone app to measure their level of refraction and determine the concentration of nanoparticles they would need for their eye drops.

How To Protect Your Eyesight

eye drops

Our sense of sight is one of our most vital senses, allowing us to navigate the world we live in. Unfortunately not everyone has this gift, so we should take care of it while we can unless we risk losing it. Here are a few different ways you can actively protect your eyesight [7]:

Eat Right

Believe it or not, our diet can have a great effect on our health. Foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, and vitamins C and E can help ward off age-related issues like macular degeneration and cataracts. Make sure to get plenty of leafy green vegetables, oily fish like salmon or tuna, eggs, nuts and other non-meat protein sources, as well as citrus fruits.

Quit Smoking

Besides the obvious things like lung and mouth cancer, smoking can also lead to cataracts, macular degeneration, and damage to the optic nerve. If you haven’t kicked the habit, now is a good time to start.

Wear Proper Sunglasses

When buying a pair of shades, make sure that they don’t just look good, but also work to protect against the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. Choose a pair that blocks 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays to help protect your eyes against cataracts and macular degeneration due to overexposure of UV rays.

Use Safety Eyewear

Whenever you’re in a situation when foreign objects could make their way into your eyes, it’s a good idea to wear protection. Whether you’re playing racquetball or doing woodwork, eye protection is always a good idea.

Watch Your Screen Time

Staring at a screen, tablet, phone, or otherwise can be detrimental to your eyes. Looking at a screen for too long can cause eye strain, blurred vision, dry eyes, and more. If you find yourself having to look at a screen for a long period of time, rest your eyes every 20 minutes. Look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Get up at least every 2 hours and take a 15-minute break.

See An Eye Doctor Regularly

Everyone needs to see an eye doctor regularly, even if you have perfect vision. Regular eye exams can track changes in your vision and even detect diseases like glaucoma that don’t have any symptoms. The earlier you spot them, the easier they are to treat.

Eyes are more than just windows to the soul, they’re how we take in the beauty of the world around us. Let’s make sure we never miss a thing.

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