Seventy-six percent of the US population wears some sort of visual aid device. Focusing long-term on a close-range object (such as a book or computer monitor) often leads to eye muscle atrophy. This problem affects a rapidly-increasing number of people, due to an increase in computer use. While some vision-impairing conditions (eg. astigmatisms) are unrelated to atrophy, most people’s eyesight is poorer due to a lack of proper eye exercise.
The classical solution to this problem is to wear glasses or contacts instead of combating the problem. People exercise to stay strong, and should do the same for their eyes. Thus, a large portion of the population would benefit from dedicated eye-exercising equipment.
The only device on the market that aims at exercising the eyes is a pair of pinhole eye glasses. Their benefit quickly approaches a limit and they do not provide for a quantitative determination of the user's eyesight.
The proposed device prompts the user to maintain focus on an image as it changes the distance to the image. When the user loses focus, he presses a button, and the device repeats the process. Such a device would improve vision, not only by offering actively exercising the muscles that focus the eye, but also by helping the user to correctly correlate blurry images with letters or words. It could allow the user to quantitatively determine his eyesight quality, using a Snellen Test. The main obstacle to the device’s marketability is its occupied space.
This device has a liquid crystal display (LCD), a viewport, and several mirrors in between, oriented in a circle. The device generates a large viewing distance by reflecting the LCD-generated image between mirrors before the user observes it. By attaching the mirrors to small linear actuators, the circle's radius (and, thus, the viewing distance) can be changed. The viewing distance is approximately equal to 2*N*radius, where N is the number of mirrors. To achieve a variety of distance ranges (for accommodation of near- and far-sighted people in a single device), the mirrors could rotate, varying N, and changing the distance multiplication.
To decrease the required mirror size, cylindrical lenses (two at the viewport and two at the LCD) can be used to decrease the image’s width. This will enable narrower mirrors to be used without image truncation, resulting in a smaller, cheaper product. By locating the LCD below the viewport, the same two lenses used to compress the image can be used to expand the image at the viewport. This decreases number of lenses to two, further reducing production costs.
This device addresses a widespread, growing problem, and the novel setup enables the product to be small and cheap. With fifty small mirrors and a one-foot radius, the device would have a range exceeding twice the Snellen Chart viewing distance. The proposed design is far better than other items on the market because it allows the user to actively and effectively push the limits of his eyesight, and quantitatively determine his eyesight quality.