“Space....the final frontier“ as Captain James T. Kirk from StarTrek quoted was all the buzz in the late 60s and 70s as NASA took our space program literally to the moon and back. Then came more orbiting satellites, piping fresh new information to our science hungry minds. Then, in 1980, the advent of the Hubble telescope changed everything. The telescope sent pictures of space with vivid vibrant colors, breathtaking pictures that eager science buffs could only dream of.

What does the science of space have to do with my eyesight you might ask. Well, the answer lies in the aerospace engineering that scientists at NASA used to help the space shuttle and rockets re-enter the earth's atmosphere. This same technology is used in laser vision correction for the eye. The angle of the laser beam and the amount of energy needed for a desired effect were both derived from the same science that NASA uses for space flight. Because the cornea of the eye is dome shaped, just like a planet, harmonious technology could be used to advance excimer laser refractive treatment of the eye. This laser technology is used to allow patients to have little or no dependency on glasses or contact lenses.

Refractive laser eye surgery has been popular since the 1980s and is used to correct patients who are nearsighted, farsighted, and have astigmatism. In most cases, patients can go without full glasses or contact lenses after their procedure. Additionally, this type of laser surgery can removes scars of the cornea and restore measures of vision.

Another fun fact is that the anatomy of the eye was used to restore function to the Hubble telescope. The Newsweek story goes like this: NASA in 1990 had just received news that their $1.5 billion scope was severely nearsighted, not able to focus on the objects at hand. Therefore a team of engineers, opticians, and optometrists were recruited to produce a “telescope contact lens” to go over the original flawed lens of the Hubble. NASA’s name and future funding were at risk. The $23 million contact lens worked, restoring space vision to the Hubble at last.

So next time you have experience with a contact lens on the eye to correct myopia (Nearsightedness) or see breathtaking pictures of our milky way from Hubble, thank the eye care profession for technology to peer into space...the final frontier!

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Recent Census Bureau data shows a population of approximately 76 million baby boomers (the generation born from 1946-1964). What does that have to do with low vision you may ask? Approximately 40 million people worldwide have some sort of blindness, and aging increases the incidence of macular degeneration and other vision impairment that qualifies them into a “low vision” status.

Mature adults with Low VisionLow vision is a condition of the eye in which the vision falls below 20/70 in the better seeing eye. It impairs the recipient, rendering them unable to perform daily tasks that others take for granted. With this rising aging population, the awareness of low vision therapy, diagnosis, and treatments are more widely available.

Low vision treatment can help people recover from decreased visual function due to retinal disease, brain injury, neurological damage and other causes.

It is not only the elderly population that is affected, approximately 20% of low vision patients are children, under the age of 18. Childhood genetic disorders of the eye such as Retinitis Pigmentosa, Albinism, Bests Disease, ROP, Rod/Cone disorders, and Glaucoma are among the few causes of low vision in the pediatric population.

What can be done to help these millions?

There are eye care practitioners that specialize in low vision, as well as therapists. They train the patient to adjust their current lifestyles to make them more independent and utilize the current salvageable vision they do have. For example, if a person has lost their central vision due to macular degeneration, they can be trained to use their peripheral vision to accommodate for many tasks.

Low VisionBecause patients with low vision cannot be corrected with regular eye glasses, the use of telescopes, magnifiers, computer generated aids, training, biofeedback, and optical magnification devices are among some of the resources available to help. Occupational therapists also employ orientation and mobility assistance to help patients in their daily living skills.

Breakthrough technologies in the area of ophthalmic research are constructing devices to restore lost vision. One such technology is a bionic eye device that uses a pair of glasses with a camera on the front, that transmits video data to an implant in the back of that patients eye (the retina). This device uses technology similar to cochlear implants that stimulate auditory nerve signals to restore hearing. In the same way, visual impulses can be restored by stimulating neurons in the retina, brain, or optic nerve.

Maybe the Bionic Man TV series wasn’t too far out there and can someday be a reality............restoring vision to millions.

For more valuable information on low vision visit:

National Eye Institution

Prevent Blindness

American Optometric Association AOA

American Occupational Therapy Association AOTA

American Academy of Ophthalmology AAO

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Absolute Vision Care & Absolute Hearing Care

For over 30 years, we have been and will continue to be your pediatric and family eye care specialists. We're looking forward to seeing you!