A team of researchers at Khalifa University has developed state-of-the-art UV protective contact lenses. Professor Haider Butt and Ph.D. student Ahmed Salih from the Department of Mechanical Engineering spearheaded this innovation, utilizing smart materials like photochromic and thermochromic powders.
Their research findings have been published in the journal Light: Science & Applications.
These innovative lenses boast unique optical attributes, dependent on their activated and inactivated states. Photochromic powders respond to UV radiation by altering their structure, while thermochromic powders react to fluctuations in temperature. When integrated into lenses, this combination provides a simpler, cost-effective solution for managing and potentially preventing various eye conditions.
Under normal lighting conditions, the transition contact lenses effectively block approximately 45% of UV and 20% of blue light. However, when exposed to UV radiation, the lenses undergo real-time darkening, absorbing portions of visible light. The speed and intensity of this transition vary based on the specific photochromic material utilized.
What sets these lenses apart is the ability to use different thermochromic and photochromic powders for user-specific customization. For example, blue transition lenses exhibit rapid color change, reverting to transparency in less than five seconds after UV exposure. On the other hand, pink lenses offer more intense coloration but take over 30 seconds to return to transparency.
Recognizing that UV is not the sole factor impacting eye health, these new lenses are temperature-sensitive and multifunctional. They darken outdoors due to UV rays from sunlight and respond to changes in temperature. Ocular surface temperature fluctuations, linked to conditions such as dry eye, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy, can now be monitored in real time using these advanced contact lenses.
Ahmed E. Salih et al, Multifunctional transition and temperature-responsive contact lenses, Light: Science & Applications (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41377-023-01304-1
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