“Imagine seeing the world in muted shades — gray sky, gray grass. Some people with color blindness see everything this way, though most can’t see specific colors. Tinted glasses can help, but they can’t be used to correct blurry vision. And dyed contact lenses currently in development for the condition are potentially harmful and unstable. Now researchers report infusing contact lenses with gold nanoparticles to create a safer way to see colors.”

According to a new article out in Science Daily, dated March 3, 2021, many daily activities for people with color blindness are very difficult because of the trouble with discerning red and green shades of color. There are red-tinted lenses that do make it easier for people with color blindness to discern colors more easily but those glasses are bulky and the lenses are not made for people with eye vision issues. So, researchers shifted their focus to tinting regular contact lenses but then they had concerns about color leeching. There is good news though! Gold nanocomposites are nontoxic and they have been used for centuries to produce “cranberry glass” because of the way they scatter light. So, Ahmed Salih, Haider Butt and colleagues wanted to see whether incorporating gold nanoparticles into contact lens material instead of dye could improve red-green contrast safely and effectively.

The contact lenses the researchers decided to try were evenly mixed gold nanoparticles into a hydrogel polymer, producing rose-tinted gels that filtered light within 520-580 nm, the wavelengths where red and green overlap. The lenses were safe, non-toxic and compared better than two commercially available tinted glasses and the previously developed contact lenses. This suggests they will be safer and more effective for people with vision issues and color blindness. Clinical trials with humans will begin to ensure comfort soon.

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American Chemical Society. “Color blindness-correcting contact lenses.” ScienceDaily.
ScienceDaily, 3 March 2021.