FDA Approves Light-Sensitive Contact Lenses Which Darken Your Eyes

Sunday, 15 April 2018 - 12:22PM
Technology
Weird Science
Sunday, 15 April 2018 - 12:22PM
FDA Approves Light-Sensitive Contact Lenses Which Darken Your Eyes
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Johnson & Johnson
Good news if you wear contacts and also want to look like an alien posing as a human, or if you've ever felt like you're missing out on prescription sunglasses.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just given its approval to an unusual fusion of transition sunglasses and contact lenses: light-sensitive contacts which darken when in contact with sunlight, allowing you to have sunglasses in your eyes while you're outside.

Part of the "Acuvue Oasys" brand, the transition contacts were the brainchild of Transitions Optical and a partnership with Johnson & Johnson. They can quickly change from normal contacts to near-black ones in enough sunlight, and Johnson & Johnson claims that they can switch fast enough that you don't have to worry about walking into a wall because you can't see the moment you walk out of sunlight.



The lenses themselves contain a dynamic photochromic filter, filled with photochromic molecules capable of changing their structure when in contact with UV light, and can block blue light as well. This sort of technology has existed in eyeglasses for quite some time (the earliest ones date back to the 1960s), but nobody has integrated that into contact lenses. One has to wonder how necessary it is, but there is some added convenience.

The FDA specifically ran a test involving 24 patients who drove during the day and night while wearing the contacts, and the drivers were completely fine in both conditions. And Johnson & Johnson seems to have run some much more broad tests before submitting the products to the FDA.

Now that the FDA's thrown their support behind it, the lenses are expected to go on sale during the first half of 2019. For now, they only last 2 weeks before they need to be replaced, but like any contacts, they can come in varying prescriptions. 

They're an odd idea, but if the FDA approved them, that means nobody crashed into anything because their vision was so obstructed. And that's probably what most people are worried about.
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