Artificial Lens Replaces Reading Glasses

As people age, their lenses lose flexibility and elasticity. This leads to a condition known as presbyopia, common in people over 45 years old, and can require optical aids, such as reading glasses. Devesh Mistry, a postgraduate research student in the School of Physics and Astronomy, is now working with liquid crystal to create a truly adjustable artificial lens. He said: “As we get older, the lens in our eye stiffens, when the muscles in the eye contract they can no longer shape the lens to bring close objects into focus. Using liquid crystals, which we probably know better as the material used in the screens of TVs and smart­phones, lenses would adjust and focus automatically, depending on the eye muscles’ movement.”

Using these liquid crystal-based materials, Devesh’s research is developing synthetic re­placements for the diseased lens in the eye – a new generation of lenses and intra-ocular lens implants to rejuvenate sight.

A prototype of an electrically switchable contact lens previously developed by the same group of collaborators. The lens makes use of liquid crystals, a material used in the vast majority of TV and smartphone screens (Source: Uni Leeds)

A prototype of an electrically switchable contact lens previously developed by the same group of collaborators. The lens makes use of liquid crystals, a material used in the vast majority of TV and smartphone screens (Source: Uni Leeds)

 

Devesh is currently researching and developing the lens in the lab and aims to have a prototype ready by the end of his doctorate in 2018.

Within a decade, the research could see the new lens being implanted into eyes in a quick and straight­forward surgical procedure under local anesthetic. Eye surgeons would make an incision in the cornea and use ultra­sound to break down the old lens. The liquid crystal lens would then be inserted, restoring clear vision.

The lens could also have application in tackling cataracts which affect many people in later life and which can seriously affect vision. A common treatment is to remove and replace the natural lens.

Devesh is working in collaboration with the Eurolens Research at the University of Manchester and with Ultra­Vision CLPL, a specialist contact lenses manufacturer headed up by two University of Leeds alumni. His research builds upon previous work by the same collaborators, who developed a prototype contact lens with an electrically-controllable focus using liquid crystals.

The first commercially-available liquid crystal lenses could be on sale between six and ten years’ time. (Source: School of Physics and Astronomy)

Links: School of Physics and Astronomy, Leeds, UK • Eurolens Research at the University of Manchester, Manchester, UK • UltraVision CLPL, Bedfordshire, UK 

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