Smart Screen May Eliminate Need for Reading Glasses

09 Oct

Do you hate reaching for reading glasses each time you get a text message? A new “smart screenimage of a smartphone” developed by researchers at MIT may eliminate the need for readers.

The thin, transparent material fits on top of the screen of a smartphone or other device. It works in conjunction with a software program to correct the viewer’s focal distance the range at which the eye can bring objects into focus.

Gordon Wetzstein, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab helped develop the new display technology. He and his team created a display that acts similarly to a lens that fits over the smartphone screen, effectively adjusting images to fit within the viewer’s focal range.

The screen cover features a pattern of tiny pinholes that alters the light emanating from the device’s screen. The technology is similar to what is used to create glasses-free 3D.

“The algorithm basically computes a pattern that’s being displayed on the regular screen, but when you observe it through this pinhole mask, it forms this illusion of a focused image outside the physical device,” Wetzstein said.

The algorithm works by adjusting the intensity of each direction of light that emanates from a single pixel of an image on the device’s screen. The precise adjustment made depends on information about the viewer’s specific vision defect, data that the researchers plug into the algorithm.

Future versions of the display will allow the viewer to adjust the algorithm based on prescriptions from an optometrist.

This smart screen could improve clarity with smartphones, e-readers, GPS units and other devices such as automotive display screens that control radio, climate control and other elements of the vehicle.

The researchers have already tested the device and found that it can correct myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism but it cannot correct for eye diseases such as cataracts or macular degeneration.

At Spectrum Eyecare, we are constantly looking for ways to help our patients preserve and enhance their vision through eyeglasses, contact lenses, medical eye care and even exciting new technologies such as this. If you or a loved one want the most advanced and caring eye care available, please call our office.


Dr. Henahan is a resident of Peachtree City and founder of Spectrum Eyecare. You may reach his office at 770-487-0667 or on the web at

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