The innovation game

How technological advancement is shaping a new era of lenses


Evolving technology has both refined the process for producing lenses and created new possibilities for how they can be used. 3D printing offers tailored ophthalmic solutions, while creative lens design is being trialled as a way of stalling the progression of myopia. While the prospect of smart glasses may not have hit the mainstream yet, electronically adaptive spectacles could give customers their own spy-movie moment in years to come.

Here are three developments in lens innovation to watch:

1. Controlling myopia

Hong Kong researchers have reported promising results using specially adapted spectacle lenses, called DIMS, to slow myopia progression. The lenses have a central optical zone for correcting the patient’s prescription and a surrounding area of multiple miniature segments, which create areas of blur with the intention of slowing the progression of myopia. Results reported in May found that on average myopia progressed 52% slower in children wearing DIMS lenses compared to those wearing single vision lenses.

2. Electronically adaptive spectacles

Spectacles incorporating sensors that allow the wearer to switch the focus of lenses to near vision at the push of a button have been manufactured by Japanese company Mitsui Chemicals. The TouchFocus spectacles use electronics and liquid crystal technology to change the focus in the lower half of the lens when a sensor is activated. The liquid crystal ‘reading zone’ returns to the wearer’s normal prescription when the sensor is touched again.

3. 3D printed lenses

The application of 3D printing technology to ophthalmic lenses enables the creation of a broad range of speciality lenses. Luxexcel has used the technology to manufacture speciality prescription lenses and customised optics, while 3D printing can also be used to create prescription lenses for virtual and augmented reality goggles. The company reported in March that it has printed more than 5000 lenses, which have been distributed to customers in Europe and the US.

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