Home Science New Lens Analysis Approach To Slow the Progression of Nearsightedness

New Lens Analysis Approach To Slow the Progression of Nearsightedness

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New Lens Analysis Approach To Slow the Progression of Nearsightedness

Happy Girl Eyeglasses

Researchers have created new instruments to measure and compare the light-focusing properties of specialized eyeglass lenses used to slow myopia progression. The insights gained can help develop even more effective lens designs. The researchers developed an instrument to measure the lens’s optical response under real-world viewing conditions by reproducing the myopic eye’s pupil and refractive errors. The findings can help millions of children by understanding the mechanisms of these lenses and improving treatment efficacy.

Instrumentation recreates properties of the myopic eye to test lenses that prevent visual decline.

Scientists have developed new instruments to evaluate specialized eyeglass lenses that slow myopia progression, potentially leading to improved lens designs and treatments for millions of children.

Researchers have developed new instruments for rigorously quantifying and comparing the light-focusing properties of specialized eyeglass lenses that are used to slow the progression of myopia, or nearsightedness. The information gained with this new approach could help inform future lens designs that are even more effective at preventing visual decline.

Nearsightedness is on the rise around the globe, especially among children. If current trends continue, half of the world’s population will be nearsighted by 2050, according to a report from the Brien Holden Vision Institute in Australia. Although the drivers of this worrisome trend aren’t entirely clear, specialized eyeglass lenses have been shown to keep myopia from getting worse. This is particularly important for children and teens who often experience progression in the condition as their bodies grow.

New Lens Analysis Approach Could Improve Treatments for Nearsightedness

Researchers have developed new instruments to evaluate specialized eyeglass lenses that slow the progression of nearsightedness, potentially leading to improved lens designs and treatments for millions of children. Credit: Augusto Arias-Gallego, ZEISS Vision Science Lab

In Optica, Optica Publishing Group’s journal for high-impact research, researchers from the ZEISS Vision Science Lab at the University of Tübingen, in Germany, and the University of Murcia, in Spain, describe their new instruments, which measure lens performance under real-world viewing conditions. They also report results from measuring the light-focusing characteristics of different lenses used to slow myopia progression.

“Insights into the link between the optical properties of myopia progression management lenses and effectiveness in real-world scenarios will pave the way to more effective treatments,” said study author Augusto Arias-Gallego, from the ZEISS Vision Science Lab. “This could help millions of children and is fundamental in understanding the mechanisms by which these lenses work.”

Capturing real-life viewing conditions

Myopia is typically caused when a person’s eyes become slightly elongated. This leads faraway objects to appear blurry because they are focused in front of, rather than onto, the retina. Although traditional eyeglass lenses can correct this blurriness, conventional lenses don’t prevent myopia from getting worse. Myopia progression can increase the likelihood of other eye problems and irreversible blindness.

Lenses that modify retinal signals to reduce myopia progression have been clinically tested and are currently available in the market. Researchers hypothesize that these lenses slow the growth of the eyeball, preventing it from becoming more elongated. These lenses incorporate different types of structures, such as microlenses or microdiffusers, to manipulate the image properties at the peripheral retina while correcting the central vision. However, the optical properties of this relatively new technology have not been extensively studied and compared.

Augusto Arias-Gallego Working With Specialized Eyeglass Lenses

Researchers have developed new instruments for rigorously quantifying and comparing the light focusing properties of specialized eyeglass lenses that are used to slow the progression of myopia, or nearsightedness. Augusto Arias-Gallego is shown working on the setup that was used to measure the focusing properties of these special lenses. Credit: Carl Zeiss Vision International GmbH

In the new work, the researchers wanted to thoroughly characterize the currently available lenses under real-world viewing conditions. “After exploring the state of the art, we didn’t find a method that could be used to characterize the optical properties of these eyeglass lenses under real viewing conditions,” said Arias-Gallego. “Therefore, we developed a new instrument that can measure the lens’s optical response to different angles of illumination while reproducing the myopic eye’s pupil and refractive errors.”

The new instrument uses an illumination source that is mounted on an arm that rotates around the lens. After the light passes through the lens, a steering rotating mirror guides it toward a spatial light modulator (SLM), which is composed of tiny liquid crystal cells that modify the propagating light with high spatial resolution.

The SLM is the core of the instrument since it reproduces the refractive errors and pupil shape of myopic eyes. This allowed the researchers to reproduce, for the first time, real aberrations produced by different angles of illumination for different myopic eyes while testing the lenses. Those aberrations were programmed as phase maps using the SLM.

Spatial Light Modulator

The researchers used a spatial light modulator — shown here being illuminated by the interrogating beam — to reproduce, for the first time, real aberrations produced by different angles of illumination for different myopic eyes. This allowed them to rigorously analyze different types of eyeglass lenses that are used to slow myopia progression. Credit: Augusto Arias-Gallego, ZEISS Vision Science Lab

Moreover, programmed amounts of defocus can be induced with the SLM, enabling the researchers to conduct a through-focus test. This test captures the image quality within the proximity of a simulated retinal position, shedding light on how the lens interacts with eye elongation signaled at the retina.

The researchers also quantified the lenses’ light scattering properties, which was important because one of the tested lenses is based on contrast reduction by adding scattering. For this, they designed a custom setup that does not require the specialized detectors and moving parts conventionally required for scattering quantification.

Comparing lens properties

“By combining the through-focus results with light-scattering measurements, we were able to accurately characterize several types of eyeglass lenses,” said Arias. “We then compared our measurements for each lens with their reported clinical efficacy for slowing myopia progression. The results raised new questions that need to be studied further while also pointing to potential strategies that could increase the efficacy of future designs.”

In this work, the lenses were characterized using a single wavelength of light to simplify the analysis of the image properties. Because the illumination in real scenarios contains many wavelengths, the researchers are working to adapt the instrument to include sources with varying wavelengths.

Reference: “In-depth optical characterisation of spectacle lenses for myopia progression management” by A. Arias, A. Ohlendorf, P. Artal and S. Wahl, 11 May 2023, Optica.
DOI: 10.1364/OPTICA.486389

The ZEISS Vision Science Lab is an “Industry on Campus Professorship” workgroup at the University of Tübingen. As part of the Excellence Initiative of the University, new collaborative projects with industry are being launched in the lab, which focuses on application-inspired research in the field of myopia, presbyopia and artificial intelligence.

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