Novel Spiral-Shaped Lens Could Revolutionize The World Of Ophthalmology


Ophthalmologists have engineered a groundbreaking contact lens with a spiral-shaped design, showcasing incredible clarity across different focal lengths and lighting conditions.

This innovative lens functions similarly to progressive lenses utilized for vision correction but eliminates the distortions commonly associated with such lenses. Its potential applications extend beyond contact lens technology, offering promise for intraocular implants in cataract surgeries and compact imaging systems.

The genesis of this pioneering design emerged during Laurent Galinier’s investigation into the optical properties of severe corneal deformation in patients. Inspired by this research, Galinier conceived a lens featuring a distinct spiral pattern, inducing a phenomenon known as an ‘optical vortex.’ Comparable to water swirling down a drain, this spiral design facilitates the manipulation of light, generating multiple focal points that ensure clear vision at varying distances.

“Creating an optical vortex usually requires multiple optical components. Our lens, however, incorporates the elements necessary to make an optical vortex directly into its surface. Creating optical vortices is a thriving field of research, but our method simplifies the process, marking a significant advancement in the field of optics,” Galinier told Optica.

Published in Optica, a journal renowned for its impactful research in optics, the study describes the development of the spiral diopter – a term coined for the novel lens. Esteemed optics expert Bertrand Simon hailed the invention as a potential game-changer in ophthalmology.

Simon from the Photonics, Numerical and Nanosciences Laboratory in France, said, “Unlike existing multifocal lenses, our lens performs well under a wide range of light conditions and maintains multifocality regardless of the size of the pupil.”

“For potential implant users or people with age-related farsightedness, it could provide consistently clear vision, potentially revolutionizing ophthalmology,” he adds.

“In addition to ophthalmology applications, the simple design of this lens could greatly benefit compact imaging systems. It would streamline the design and function of these systems while also offering a way to accomplish imaging at various depths without additional optical elements. These capabilities, coupled with the lens’s multifocal properties, offer a powerful tool for depth perception in advanced imaging applications,” said Simon.

The lens fabrication process involved advanced digital machining technique to meticulously craft the intricate spiral structure with precision. Validation of the lens efficacy was conducted by imaging a digital ‘E,’ akin to those found on optometrists’ light-up boards. Remarkably, the image quality remained consistently high across different aperture sizes.

Moreover, researchers noted the modifiability of optical vortices by adjusting the topological charge, denoting the number of windings around the optical axis. Volunteers outfitted with these lenses reported tangible enhancements in visual acuity under diverse lighting conditions and at various distances.

“This new lens could significantly improve people’s depth of vision under changing lighting conditions,” said Simon.

“Future developments with this technology might also lead to advancements in compact imaging technologies, wearable devices, and remote sensing systems for drones or self-driving cars, which could make them more reliable and efficient,” he added.