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I am writing a SciFi novel in which military officers have electronic lenses implanted in their eyes to act as a tactical overlay. It is likely of little consequence, but I am unsure whether or not to call these an Ocular Implant or an Optical Implant, as the words are similar in meaning, but one might imply that the implant is a replacement of the eye with a bionic implant instead of just the lenses.

Is the wording of much consequence in this case?

If so, which would be more appropriate?

To be a bit more specific, I have already written quite a bit using the words interchangeably. Recently it has come to my attention that it could be confusing if the audience thinks everyone is walking around with robotic eyes. I just need to know if it is a distinct enough difference to bother going back and changing everything to the same adjective.

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I would definitely suggest going back through and making the adjectives consistent. If you use two different adjectives, readers are likely to think they're two different things.

Which to choose is up to you. I'm pretty sure I've heard both in different sci-fi universes. For the record, the technical term for such a thing in real life is an intraocular lens.

  • Although the other answers were also very good, I ended up going with this one because the link to modern day intraocular lenses is a perfect basis for their technological evolution. On that same line I have since converted all references to "ocular" because it is most similar to the actual terminology. Thanks. – TitaniumTurtle Jan 10 at 2:58
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The difference in meaning may help you determine which term you want to use. Optical relates to sight, whereas ocular relates to the eye.

If your lenses are primarily intended to aid or affect "sight", or is primarily based on the manipulation of light, then optical might be a better term. (An example might be a zoomable lens for long-range reconnaissance or aim.)

If the lenses are primarily intended for some other purpose, and their effect on "sight" is incidental, then the fact that they are located on the eye is the only relevant factor, and calling them ocular (or intraocular, as eyeballfrog suggests) may be better. (An example might be an augmented reality display which adds information about the scene - in this case, the fact that it's eye-mounted rather than head-mounted like AR glasses is relevant.)

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Based on the purpose of the implant, Ocular Implant seems like a better name. However, avoid using the terms Ocular Implant and Optical Implant interchangeably. When reading sci-fi novels, readers tend to keep track of tech in terms of keywords so it is important to maintain constant terminology throughout your story.

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