Friday, January 13, 2006

US Military Invests in 'Super Vision'

ROANOKE, Va. -- PixelOptics will receive $3.5 million from the Defense Department to develop eyewear designed to enhance the vision of military personnel in combat zones, the company announced Wednesday.

The technology "is intended to provide the U.S. military forces with a competitive combat advantage and reduce the number of friendly fire incidents," Ron Blum, president and chief executive officer of the Roanoke-based vision technology development company, said in a statement.

Dr. Dwight Duston, Pixel's Executive Vice President of Research and Development and Military Programs and program manager for the project, stated: "Certain nonuniformities within the human eye are the cause of most vision deficiencies. Conventional aberrations, such as nearsightedness (myopia) and farsightedness (hyperopia), can be corrected with normal spectacle lenses to give 20/20 vision.

The spatial density of light receptors in the retina, however, is enough to allow human eyes to see better than 20/20, perhaps as well as 20/08. However, higher-order aberrations in the eye prevent us from attaining this "SuperVision" (the ability to have optimized vision better than 20/20).

Last week, the San Diego-based Boston Health Group agreed to provide PixelOptics with $32 million to help develop eyeglasses using the same technology that could replace bifocals and trifocals. Sensors and other electronics automatically would change the lenses' focus for near and far distances.

The electro-active technology has a variety of uses, from eyeglasses to the canopies of fighter jets to automotive mirrors. But the first market is for people suffering from presbyopia, a condition affecting most people over 40.
With "93 percent of everybody in the world over the age of 42 [being] presbyoptic," according to Blum, the potential market is huge. PixelOptics plans to cash in on it.

Va. company will design eyewear to aid military in combat zones


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