The standard safety goggles that surgeons and other doctors often wear have a single important purpose: to protect the eyes from spurts and splashes of blood and other bodily fluids. Now health care professionals are welcoming a new generation of medical spectacles that not only shield the eyes but also enhance them.
MAKER: 2AI Labs
PURPOSE: The glasses reveal bruises, rashes and internal injuries invisible to the naked eye. Idaho-based nurse Jake Youren used them to detect hidden bruising on a woman who had recently been in a car crash. Other doctors find the glasses useful for spotting blood clots.
HOW IT WORKS:The human eye naturally tunes to very subtle shifts in skin coloration that correspond to changes in blood flow. 2AI's spectacles, which come in shades of green, pink and violet, unlock the full potential of this innate sensitivity. Dyes in the polycarbonate glasses block particular wavelengths of light that ordinarily interfere with our perception of either red oxygenated blood—the kind that accumulates with injury—or blue unoxygenated blood running through veins.
PRICE: Starting at $127
STAGE: In use
NAME: Eyes-On Glasses
MAKER: Evena Medical
PURPOSE: These specs help nurses locate veins when inserting needles, IVs and catheters, saving time and minimizing pain, injury and costs.
HOW IT WORKS: Eyes-On Glasses are like an x-ray for blood vessels. They emit four benign beams of near-infrared light at just the right wavelengths to be absorbed by veins while bouncing off tissue. Two mounted cameras detect where light has been reflected and absorbed. An onboard processor uses those data to generate a vein road map, which a projector then displays on a transparent visor.
STAGE: Debuting in November
NAME: Fluorescent goggles
MAKER: Samuel Achilefu and his colleagues, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
PURPOSE: In many cases, it is extremely difficult for a surgeon to be sure that the entirety of a tumor has been excised because microscopic bits and pieces can stay behind undetected. These goggles help doctors notice lingering cancer cells, which could increase the likelihood of a recurrence if not removed.
HOW IT WORKS:While operating, surgeons inject tissue with a fluorescent dye that binds only to cancer cells and glows green under near-infrared light. A camera fixed to a visor picks up the fluorescence while a small computer and fiber-optic cable use that information to overlay glowing dots on the wearer's field of view that indicate where a tumor still remains.
PRICE: Less than $10,000
STAGE: Still in development