Squintasaurus: cybernetic dynamically adjustable vision enhancement system

Picture of Squintasaurus: cybernetic dynamically adjustable vision enhancement system

I can't see things very well at a distance. I used to wear classes, then contact lenses, then nothing. I hadn't worn any corrective lenses for years because glasses were annoying and my contact lenses were messing up my eyes. One day I was thinking about the reason for near-sightedness and I figured that if it's caused by an inability of the eye's lenses to flatten out, then maybe I could physically assist them in some way instead of just optically correcting for the problem like 'corrective lenses' do. Then after trying some things I realized that I could pull back back on the skin at the sides of my eyes and this seemed to do the trick. Since then I've been in several seminars in which I successfully used this trick to be able to read the screen or chalkboard that was too far away for me to otherwise make out clearly. So I decided to make a simple device to do this for me. What I made probably wouldn't be something that most people would want to wear in public, but a professionally made, miniaturized version of such a device might have more widespread appeal, and it was fun to make and test in any case.

Note: Squinting is thought to work by decreasing the amount of light entering the eye as well as by slightly flattening the eye's cornea. The cornea is a lens of the eye that is responsible for a majority of the eye's focusing power. If one squints one can notice a decrease in the field of vision indicating a decrease in eye's aperture. However, when pulling at the eyelid corners with your fingers you will notice an enhancement of distance vision greater than that achievable by squinting, and without any noticeable decrease in field of vision. So it seems that this system works more by flattening the cornea than it does by decreasing the eye's aperture. A final possibility for how this system works is related to the eye's length: In near sighted people light from distant objects converges slightly in front of the retina (the part of your eye that actually detects the incoming light and sends the information to your brain). Using this system the pulling back on the eyelids may be compressing the eye slightly, thereby allowing the convergence of light rays to occur further back in the eye: at the retina, allowing clearer vision of the distant objects.

Step 1: Get the linear actuator

Picture of Get the linear actuator
you'll need a pretty strong linear actuator to be able to pull your skin enough to have the desired effect. I remembered that CD players had nice worm gear motors in them to move the laser back and forth across the CD, so I looked through my junk pile and found an old CD walkman. I tore it apart using screwdrivers etc. and took out the linear actuator assembly, this will look different depending on the CD player but it's easy to identify if you know what you're looking for. I didn't take photos of this part so you'll have to look at the photos I got from wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CD_Walkman, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_Disc_player).

= The first photo shows a portable CD player, you could also take apart a non-portable CD player but those are usually a little harder to take apart.
= The second photo show the inside of a CD player. The black region on the green board on the left is what you're after, it has all the necessary motors and gears attached.
= The third photo shows this same mechanism from the underside, showing the motors and gears. You do not need to disassemble this mechanism, you will use it as is. All you need to cut are the wires leading to the rectangular motor (as noted on the photo).

Looking at the third photo: We'll be interfacing with the rectangular motor which is connected to the worm gear which is connected to the laser lense. The laser lense gets moved linearly, up and down along the worm gear. A 'worm gear' is the best way to allow low torque motors (such as the small rectangular one in the photo) to be used in high torque applications (like this one), but some cheaper CD players won't use worm gears. These alternate gear configurations will also work ok for this application.
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atterack8333 years ago
ok dont mind me but i cant help but make a racist comment here , activate Chinese vision (or chink vision , it rolls better but its more racist sorry)

Realising I use this method to correct my vision whilst stud in a take away. You know those orangey gold menus on the back wall with hundreds of different random dishes on, lil black letters all crammed together. It's just 1 big blur to me until I pull the skin at the side of my eyes. Imagine my dilemma, I'm stud there doing it, trying to get my focus, then the lil Chinese man walks out from the back.

trybak2 years ago
Given the popularity of facial skin piercing one might attach the string to an eyebrow piercing or even several piercings strategically placed to create fine tuning of focus. This might require a separate motor for each point of attachment along with a quick disconnect of each of the strings.
Also other applications might be therapeutic for paralysis of facial muscles. The previous comment about forcing a torture victim to smile made me consider non-evil applications since they might have more widespread appeal thus more funding opportunities.
mrwolfe3 years ago
Freaky instructable, love it! Won't work for me though becaue I am very myopic (not sure about "short sighted" - makes me sound a bit conservative!). Squinting stopped working for me years ago as well.

Just as an aside, the way squinting works is to reduce the effective aperature of your eye. As any photographer knows, when you stop down the aperature, you make the aperature small, which increases the depth of field. This means that objects are in focus over a larger range of distances. Conversely, opening the aperature up reduces the depth of field, which allows a photographer to take a picture of a persons face, for example, with everything in front and behind out of focus.

A camera obscura (pinhole camera) works on the same principle, but with a very small hole as the aperature.
DIY-Guy mrwolfe2 years ago
With an eye toward the "be nice" policy, I hope everyone will honor the humor in this and not assume an attack is taking place. After all, I'm not flagging somebody else for a violation. Please accept this in the friendly way it is intended-

MrWolfe said:
"I am very myopic (not sure about "short sighted" - makes me sound a bit conservative!)."

Funny you should add a political comment like that, but since you brought it up... every conservative I know is very far sighted, they think about the effects of choices today and the consequences upon the future.

As to the narrow view through a pinhole, I'll try very hard not to make a comment relating a narrow view to the other kind of politics.    ;)

mrwolfe DIY-Guy2 years ago
Errrm, actually I meant conservative as in "overly cautious" rather than conservative in the political sense. I guess my intent was more along the lines of being conservative as opposed to visionary.
DIY-Guy mrwolfe2 years ago
:) Heh! You did very well with that one. Perhaps you are a visionary conservative along with so many other people? I think people like Gallileo, Newton, and so forth were looking at facts they could see, thinking about the implications a lot, and then trying to do the best thing possible. But *anyone* who reaches beyond the normal view of the time runs the risk of being ostracised as a visionary.
leevonk (author)  mrwolfe3 years ago
you're right about squinting, but like I added in the "Note" in the project intro, when I pull at the skin at the corners of my eyes I notice an enhancement of distance vision without a noticeable decrease in my field of vision. Meanwhile when I squint I don't see nearly as much vision enhancement and I _do_ see a decrease in my field of vision (i.e. a decrease in the aperture), so it doesn't seem like this skin pulling method works the same way as squinting does, I think it is actually stretching out the eye's lens,... but I'm not sure...
skrubol3 years ago
So you're using NPN transistors for all 4? With that H-bridge design, you'll get a bit of a voltage drop across the high-side transistors.
Probably not an issue for driving a tiny motor like that though as long as you use oversized transistors.
love4pds3 years ago
how about the minimally invasive face lift product? Useing it where the tape is under the skin?
Fik3 years ago
I can't believe no one has made a Borg reference
mh76dk3 years ago
I realise that this is 99% done "just because" so I will just comment on the last 1%.

I am not sure I see how this is a better (in any other way than "much more fun to do") solution than glasses - and it may also have some skin/flesh-related sideeffects (strain from being pulled back often/for very long time, tape-rash(?))

I would also think the tape sticking part is very individual (as our skin is different, dryness, sweatyness, etc)

When that is said (and I could be wrong :), for what it is, it is quite an interresting project.
leevonk (author)  mh76dk3 years ago
you're right, I did do it mostly just for fun but an improved version of this system would have some theoretical advantages over contact lenses or glasses. Glasses are delicate and contact lenses change the shape of your eye over time (that's why people getting lasik curgery have to go without contacts for a couple months before the surgery). Contact lenses can also cause detrimental growth of blood vessels on the cornia (here's a list of their problems: http://www.eyeconx.com/patient/article.asp?itemtype=publicarticle&itemid=F00AB8BBEC0E4D8D9E1D50D4B363B89E). Also, both glasses anc contact lenses are constantly in the 'on' state which may have further detrimental effects on vision. This system can be switched on and off as needed and would therefore probably have less effects on one's long term vision, and would also probably not cause the eye shape and blood vessel changes that contact lenses can.
mh76dk leevonk3 years ago
I just thought I would bring up a few things worth considering - just in case you had not.

The one thing regarding this vs. glasses is that glasses seem to me to be less intrusive and also very portable (taking them off also turns them off - so to speak).

Having said that. I do not need eye correction (or rather, I might need it, but I dont have/use it) so I am not so familiar with the issues they might have.

Good luck with the improved version!
leevonk (author)  mh76dk3 years ago
yeah, you're right, glasses are pretty easy to 'turn' on/off but not as easily or quickly as with this system. Also, glasses can only be turned on and off if you carry your glasses case with you everywhere, and unless its big and sturdy (i.e. annoying to carry) they still stand a chance of getting damaged in your pocket. Besides, with a cell phone, wallet, and keys who has room for a glasses case :) However, there's a big caveat, glasses can definitely enhance your vision to a much greater degree than this system can (i.e. this system will not augment vision enough for a severely nearsighted person to be fully functional)
mh76dk leevonk3 years ago
But will your system not require a carrying case too? it will likely also get annoying wearing it all the time. (I hope this does not come across as negatively as I make it sound - I really do like the idea/solution)
leevonk (author)  mh76dk3 years ago
No offense taken, in the state in which it's presented here, yes, it can get annoying to wear
w0ot! leevonk3 years ago
Instead of putting this on your eyes, I think it would make a bang-up steam punk torture device to force ones victim to smile.
Yes, and if you have to look at something close-up and then something far away (i.e. a child writing down what the teacher is writing on the board while in class) it would be pretty annoying if you have to take off your glasses every few seconds as to not harm your long-term vision.
That is a very good point.
atterack8333 years ago
also how do you get the tape to hold? what kind of tape is it
leevonk (author)  atterack8333 years ago
it's electrical tape, I was surprised at how well it held on
w0ot! leevonk3 years ago
You could also use Breathe-Rite® strips.
beff503 years ago
seriously, your eyes are not something you should mess with. we wear corrective lenses to prevent eyestrain, we wear polarized sunglasses to prevent cataracts, and we don't wear eye skin stretchers as to not cause astigmatism and possible retina damage. more then likely your ophthalmologist will have an entire barnyard if he finds out about this device. it could make your eyesight worse in the long-run.
lperkins3 years ago
I would be hesitant to use this system for any prolonged period of time. My ophthalmologist is very chatty and likes to discuss his research. One of his projects is assessing the correlation between squinting and the development of astigmatism. Basically, if you don't flatten your cornea evenly, it will cause it to deform and no longer be a perfect dome, making it even harder for your eyes to focus properly. On top of that, pulling on your skin like that is likely to give you the oddest-looking set of wrinkles when you get older.
leevonk (author)  lperkins3 years ago
That's really interesting, hadn't thought of uneven flattening of the cornea. I know that contact lenses change eye shape too, I'm not sure in what way though
Hard contacts force the cornea to take their shape. That's how most cases of astigmatism are corrected by contacts. (Most of the refraction occurs at the cornea surface. Most astigmatism is due to the cornea not being spherical.) Soft lenses conform to the cornea, and cannot correct astigmatism unless they are weighted to prevent rotation.

Want another way to correct nearsightedness? Ride in the leading car of a roller coaster and look straight forward! The air blast flattens the cornea. It corrected my 3 diopters of nearsightedness on the fast parts of the ride.
leevonk (author)  bpark10003 years ago
interesting, soft contacts also apparently change the shape of the eye in a nonbeneficial way as a side effect of prolonged use too:
bpark10003 years ago
This device does correct nearsightedness, but I suspect it also introduces astigmatism when activated, as it is pulling outward, but not up/down. Have you tested your refraction when it's activated? You can do that with a handful of diopter lenses from Superopticalsystems.com ($0.75 each) a white wax candle, and a 5 mW green laser pointer. Set the pointer shooting into the side of the candle (stable on a table). The candle will glow green. View from 20 feet away while being still. You will see a graininess to the light. If you move slightly left/right, the grains will shift. If you are nearsighted, the grain motion will oppose your motion, if farsighted, the grain motion will follow.  With the device activated, look through diopter lenses (-0.25, -0.5, -.075, etc.) until you find the one that stops the grain motion.  That is your correction.  Repeat the test, but move up/down instead.  I'll bet you find you need a different lens to correct for the up/down test.  The difference between the 2 lenses is your astigmatism.

Another question: would prolonged pressure raise the eyeball pressure, and damage the retina?
leevonk (author)  bpark10003 years ago
yeah, it is probably causing some sort of fluctuations in internal pressure which could be an issue over time as you mentioned
greatpanda3 years ago
FWIW, William H Bates wrote a book on natural vision exercises nearly a hundred years ago, it's a free pdf online as the copyright has run out. It takes time and dedication once you're already near/far sighted, but Meir Schneider is one of the most famous of cases, went from blind (only seeing shadows across his vision in full sun) to being awarded his driver's license in CA with no restrictions.
Aldous Huxley (Brave New World) used the Bates Metod and wrote a book about it called (IIRC) The Art of Seeing.
tinker2343 years ago
i like the concept but for me i was wondering about how to make something that willlt ake normal vison and bring it to super natural levels
leevonk (author)  tinker2343 years ago
This system may indeed be able to allow people with 20/20 vision to see further, I haven't tested it with anyone with perfect vision but I will try it
or maybe pepole with less than perfect vison to see with 20/20 or add magnfining glasses for diffrent lenses viewing using a sevro
lumi30053 years ago
Cool idea but I wonder how to improve the performance.
How does the idea sounds to hook that up to a microcontroller, combined with a distance sensor (and maybe a laser pointer to aim the target) for an automatically focusing?
bstott3 years ago
Pretty geeky cool. Now, will your grades get better and will you get a raise? Testing, testing, testing..... :-)
Electorials3 years ago
interesting! :o
unlearny3 years ago
Nice idea!  You may not know, but Aldus Huxley (Brave New World) wrote a book on eye exercises to improve vision. He was almost blind from a life of writing and reading in the dark to flickering oil lamps.  You may want to look it over for future machines!
Pattymouth3 years ago
I love that you said, "glasses were annoying" and then created a big thing you wear on your head and something with batteries that you have to strap onto your hand. I don't know if you could market these for many of us women (unless you add some glitter?), but it's a fascinating tool. You people are smart!
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