EssilorLuxottica reveals Varilux XR

The ninth generation of the Varilux series was launched at an event attended by more than 250 practices

Side profile of Paul Sinha, professional quizzer on TV show, The Chase, and former GP, standing on the stage as the host for the Varilux XR event
EssilorLuxottica has launched its latest product, the Varilux XR series lens.

Described as “the first eye-responsive varifocal lens, powered by behavioural artificial intelligence,” the ninth generation of the Varilux series was launched at an event on 24 May at the Hilton London Wembley, to an audience of more than 250 practices.

Paul Sinha, professional quizzer on TV show, The Chase, and former GP, hosted the evening, which gave eye care professionals insight on the new technology through presentations and 3D simulations and videos.

With increasingly connected lifestyles creating “information overload” for many people, the company sought to provide a lens to fit the needs of the modern presbyope.

Drawing on more than one million pieces of data, EssilorLuxottica used artificial intelligence (AI) to predict the visual behaviour of a presbyopic patient, designing the lens to provide “instant sharpness, even whilst in motion.”

Alan Pitcher, commercial director for wholesale lenses, said: “For the very first time our scientists have managed to harness the power of AI and build this unique technology into creating the first eye-responsive varifocal lens by using a digital twin to capture the exact detail that a wearer needs a spectacle lens to deliver, on to them.”

“This insight has allowed us to build a new feature into the lens with XR-motion technology to vastly improve the binocular vision that the lens provides,” he added.

Education around the new lens is available through EssilorLuxottica’s Leonardo platform and self-learning modules.

The launch of the lens will be supported by the company’s “biggest ever” media campaign, rolling out this year.

The company will also work with influencers in the UK and Ireland to share their experience with the lens on social media, while point of sale material will be available for practices.

Eye care professionals can order the lens from 7 June.

The population of presbyopes

Aude Bouillet, head of product marketing and categories at Essilor Ltd., gave event attendees a sense of scale for the growing population of patients who might benefit from varifocal lenses in the future.

Sharing ‘true or false’ questions, Bouillet highlighted that more than half of the world’s population will be over 40 years old by 2030, with the number of presbyopes expected to rise.

“Health and wellbeing are key for these consumers,” she said, along with personalisation, and their increasingly connected and on-the-go lifestyles.

Consumers are not strangers to artificial intelligence – such as through smartphone facial recognition – Bouillet shared, describing the Varilux XR as a “concrete application [that] will help make the world better.”

Five years of R&D

Sebastien Fricker, research and development lens design manager, explained that five years of work went into designing the lens.

Fricker spoke about the 100,000 eye movements a person will perform each day, and the vast amount of visual information a person might be taking in: from checking smartphones, to reading smartwatches.

Describing multitasking as “the new normal in 2023,” he cautioned that multitasking is really only switching between multiple tasks.

“That creates a delay, and we lose some performance because our attention moves between two topics. The same is true for our eyes, because we move from one object to another and it can create some delay,” he said, highlighting that many wearers can feel the need to ‘slow down’ to adjust to the amount of visual information they take in.

“One reason they have to slow down is that the current progressive lens designs that are on the market do not take into account eye movements,” he said.

Fricker explained how the team’s goal was to take into account the visual behaviour of every wearer, “because we do not look at the world in the same way.”

Digital technology and AI

The company created ‘digital twins’ to be able to simulate visual activities of a wearer in a virtual environment and evaluate the performance of the lens for patients.

The Varilux XR

series is the ninth generation of Varilux

Explaining the reasoning for using behavioural artificial intelligence to create the lens, Fricker gave an example of a heart surgeon, who might practise a specific surgery on a digital twin of a patient’s heart.

The digital twinning tool was then built on to be able to predict visual behaviour of a patient using artificial intelligence.

More than 1 million data points were used for the predictive modelling, from order data, wearer test data, behavioural data, near vision behaviour measurements and physiological models.

By predicting visual behaviour, XR-motion technology reduces optical disparities between the two lenses to ensure precise positioning of the focus zones, adapted to each wearer, with the lenses optimised binocularly according to the patient’s visual behaviour profile.

Indicating how much of a difference these changes could make to a wearer, Fricker said: “disparities can be like small grains of sand that slow down the wearer when he is moving the eyes around.”

To quantify the benefit of the lens, Fricker explained that the volume of broadband vision (the volume in front of an individual where they can see sharply and move their eyes efficiently), compared to Varilux X series is bigger by 49%.

Personalisation matters

Charlotte Timbury, Varilux product and category manager at EssilorLuxottica in North Europe, then took to the stage to discuss personalisation in the new lens.

Timbury began by recapping the importance of understanding the natural head posture of a patient, supported by capturing a Near Vision Behaviour (NVB) measurement.

“Near vision behaviour is where we can take predictive visual behaviour to the next level, because we can really understand how that patient behaves when they are doing their near vision tasks,” she said.

Discussing the benefit of incorporating NVB, Timbury said that the width of the near vision zone can be increased by up to 25%.

The Varilux XR series will include multiple options for personalisation, and will be available in Transitions and Xperio ranges, with Eye Protect System. AVA (Advanced Vision Accuracy) is an option too.