People who are colorblind typically have limited correction options, including glasses that help wearers differentiate colors but aren’t able to address other vision problems.1 Recent studies that looked at adding a pink tint to contact lenses showed initial promise in improving color perception, but safety issues arose due to dye leaching from the lens.1 However, a new treatment to correct this hereditary condition may be on the horizon: contact lenses infused with gold nanoparticles that researchers suggest may offer patients a safer and more effective way to decipher red and green colors.2
As gold particles are nontoxic and have been used for centuries to produce “cranberry glass” because of the way they scatter light, the investigative team incorporated this substance into a hydrogel lens polymer. The result was rose-tinted gels that filtered light within 520nm to 580nm, the wavelengths where red and green overlap.2
The most effective mixture was found in lenses infused with 40nm-wide gold nanoparticles, since these particles don’t clump or filter more color than is needed.2
The gold lenses were more selective in blocking wavelengths than two commercially available pairs of tinted glasses, the researchers noted. Additionally, the gold contact lenses matched the wavelength range of the previously investigated pink-tinted lenses, minus the problematic leaching dye and subsequent safety concerns.2
Also of note: the water retention and wettability of the gold lenses were superior to some commercially available contact lenses used for cosmetic/vision correction purposes, the researchers said.2
The investigators plan to conduct clinical trials with the gold-infused lenses on human patients to evaluate comfort.2
1. Color blindness-correcting contact lenses. American Chemical Society. March 3, 2021. www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/presspacs/2021/acs-presspac-march-3-2021/color-blindness-correcting-contact-lenses.html. Accessed March 8, 2021.
2. Salih AE, Elsherif M, Alam F, et al. Gold nanocomposite contact lenses for color blindness management. ACS Nano. February 11, 2021. [Epub ahead of print].