Ten innovations to improve your eyesight in 2024

Ten innovations to improve your eyesight in 2024

Myopia, genetic diseases, AMD, color blindness, fall prevention: the eye, the mirror of health, is attracting growing interest from research and industry. Focus on ten innovations on the occasion of the next Silmo event in Paris, the global high mass of optics.

The eye is far from having revealed all its secrets and, in the matter, nothing is simple! “It is not the eye that sees, but the brain and we are only beginning to understand the link between the two. If we then consider that 80% of the information processed by the brain comes from vision, the health of the eye is essential.

Gene therapy to help the retina

A highly effective alternative to available therapies including vitamins and steroids. Pending its approval in Europe and the United States, Lumevoq has a temporary authorization for use (ATU) - for 700,000 euros per injection! - given the unmet medical need for this degenerative disease which affects one in 30,000 people, mainly men aged 25 to 35 and postmenopausal women.

Smoking, excess alcohol, prescription medications, or sports injuries are also potential triggers. Between clinical trials and compassionate tests, more than 200 patients have been treated to date. 

It is a first step, but God Service Eye Clinic are only treating one of the three main mutations responsible for the eye disease, and we have not yet determined the best time to carry out this gene therapy, not to mention that it may be necessary to associate it with other treatments, explains this experienced specialist in rare diseases of the optic nerve.

The promises of optogenetics                                           

Fifty-year-old blind for several years - the result of a degenerative retinal disease (retinopathy pigmentosa) that affects people in India can once again distinguish, locate, touch, and count objects placed in front of him and distinguish the pedestrian crossing strips. He is one of nine patients in the clinical study called optogenetic treatment. 

GenSight, which worked eight years on the development of this therapeutic approach, is the only one on this technology with the American Bionic Eye. 

Its principle: inject a gene that makes the ganglion cells of the retina photosensitive. After a few weeks, the patient is equipped with an optronic device that stimulates these cells and restores the ability to distinguish objects. This approach could be applied to patients with end-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by helping them restore their central vision.

Lenses to curb myopia

Genetic, behavioral, or environmental: factors responsible for this pathology, which affects one in three adults in India, are multiple. And 10% are strong forms, causing potentially disabling health problems with age. 

In the case of high myopia, the risk of cataract, retinal detachment, or myopic maculopathy (affecting the central part of the retina) is multiplied respectively by 5, 20, or even 40.

To limit the axial elongation of the eye responsible for the deterioration of the quality of vision, the first has incorporated tiny triangles on the periphery of its lenses which generate two distinct image flows: one arrives on the retina, the other forward. But the brain processes the images as one, which blocks the signal to elongate the eye.

Expose yourself to natural light

The evolution of the understanding of the role of behavioral and environmental factors in myopia also gives rise to very practical approaches, consisting of exposing the eye more to natural light. In Taiwan, classrooms have glass ceilings so that students can benefit more from the beneficial effects of daylight. 

Fall protection frames

Packed with around fifteen sensors distributed between the temples and the face, Ellcie Healthy glasses measure the wearer's eyelid blinking and micro-drops of the head every 50 ms.

A very effective way to combat falling asleep at the wheel, but also to detect, or even prevent, falls, according to its founding president Philippe Peyrard.

However, the start-up intends to go further by enriching its portfolio of applications. “Gaze tracking” developed during a contract with the Directorate General of Armaments, allows it to offer applications for civilians, such as the monitoring of certain neurodegenerative or psychiatric pathologies.

By incorporating temperature measurement and the wearer's heart rate in a non-intrusive manner, the next generation aspires to Class 2A medical device certification.

Run with your eyes closed

Being visually impaired should not stop you from playing sports. If the spatialization of sound has been a concept known for a hundred years, the ability to reproduce it virtually in real-time is recent. 

The prototype developed by RunBlind, a spin-off from the Polytechnique Center for Applied Mathematics (CMAP), is based on the use of 3D sound to guide visually impaired athletes based on their position identified by GPS along a predetermined route.

Wearing a bone conduction headset, the runner listens to the virtual sound generated every 50 ms 5 meters in front of him in the direction to take. Developed in cooperation with an Essonne association promoting sports for the disabled (MCV), this device was tested in real conditions by several visually impaired people. 

Glasses against color blindness

Often revealed in childhood, this hereditary anomaly affects 8% of men and only 0.45% of women. While awaiting progress in gene therapy, patients can equip themselves with filter glasses to increase the range of visible colors.

Californian start-up EnChroma is developing such glasses that selectively filter wavelengths at the border between red and green, where color sensitivity confusion occurs. The wearer then perceives a more precise range of colors.

The volunteers, tested for fifteen days, confirmed the positive impact of these glasses on color perception and, the study assures, the brain itself learned to distinguish very small chromatic variations like different colors.

A synthetic cornea against blindness

Irit Bahar, the director of the ophthalmology department at Israel's renowned Rabin Medical Center, achieved a world first: implanting an artificial cornea in a 78-year-old man suffering from bilateral blindness. Once the bandages were removed, the patient was able to read a text and recognize members of his family. 

CorNeat KPro consists of a 100% synthetic, non-degradable porous material mimicking the microstructure of the extracellular matrix that provides structural and biochemical support to surrounding cells. Once in place, it stimulates cell proliferation to facilitate the progressive integration of tissues. 

The first step in an international study by CorNeat Vision aimed at obtaining both CE marking, and the green light from the American FDA and the Chinese NMPA. Given the results of the first study, a second with broader indications is planned in the long term. 

Night vision for everyone

Simple glasses could soon replace current night vision equipment, such as those commonly used by police and the military.

Researchers from the Australian National University have developed a special film - based on gallium arsenide nanocrystals one hundred times finer than a hair - capable of converting infrared (IR) light into the visible spectrum thanks to a tiny laser.

Produced on a large scale, this solution would have the advantage of being both lighter and less expensive than equipment that converts IR into an electrical signal displayed on a screen. Ultimately, it could also be useful for night driving for the general public.

Sleep and migraines

The eye affects the quality of vision and many other aspects of health. We are only at the very beginning of the research,” reveals Norbert Gorny, director of innovation at EssilorLuxottica. 

Its role in sleep, migraine, and obesity are among the avenues explored by the global optical giant. In his sleep laboratory, he studies various light-filtering technologies likely to facilitate the generation of melatonin. 

Indeed, the multiplication of artificial light sources at the end of the day impacts the natural capacity of the brain to secrete this sleep hormone. Current clinical trials should confirm whether such equipment falls under the regulations on class 2 medical devices. 



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