Tech Transfer eNews Blog

U of Arizona researcher develops advanced eye lenses for patients with cataracts


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: August 5th, 2020

A researcher at the University of Arizona (UA) has developed implantable lenses that can bring mid-range vision to patients with cataracts, potentially eliminating the need for glasses or contacts.

Jim Schwiegerling’s lenses offer a third focal distance, which not only provides better eyesight but also allows more sunlight into the eye, creating sharper, higher contrast images. By comparison, artificial intraocular lenses—the routine solution to cataracts for nearly 50 years—lack the ability to focus near, thus requiring patients to wear reading glasses.

“One of the complaints about bifocal lenses is that you can drive a car and read, but everything in between was kind of fuzzy and with all the screens, people wanted that extra intermediate distance,” says Schwiegerling, who developed cataracts several years ago himself and now uses his own invention. “There’s this technology called diffractive lenses that look a little like mini lighthouse lenses—instead of smooth curves, the lens has little steps. If you alternate steps of different heights, you can create this third focus to use for computer distance.”

UA’s commercialization arm Tech Launch Arizona (TLA) licensed the technology to Alcon, a global medical device company specializing in eye care products. Alcon incorporated Schwiegerling’s innovation in its PanOptix lens, which has been used by about half a million people around the world.

“It’s our primary goal to get inventions made at UA out into the public to really have an impact on society,” says Doug Hockstad, assistant vice president of TLA. “This is even more impressive and moving, seeing how much of an impact this is having not only on the world, but also directly on the inventor’s own life.”

Source: Tech Launch Arizona

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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