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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.