Electronic lenses

A revolution in ophthalmics

As we age, the lens of the human eye loses elasticity (presbyopia) and reading glasses become a necessity. For those who are already myopic, the onset of presbyopia leaves them with three options: to have two pairs of glasses; a pair of the Benjamin Franklin’s 1784 innovation bifocals; or the updated version of progressive lenses, where the bifocal lens is blended to appear continuous.

With specialist knowledge in optics and ophthalmics, TTP turned its attention to improving these options and invented the cholesteric liquid crystal electronic lens. This technology allows a lens to change focal length electronically; the lens shifts from distance to near vision in milliseconds, at the flick of a switch.

Common to many TTP development programmes, the project’s scope ranged from developing the technology to the development and implementation of the manufacturing process.

How it works

A diffractive lens has an optical power which is defined by the pitch and an efficiency which is defined by the phase change from the depth of the structure. Combining a cholesteric liquid crystal (nearly independent of polarisation) with the diffractive structure, allows the phase change to be switched between zero (no optical power) to 2pi (optical power).

Realising innovation

Traditionally, in order to achieve optical power change, you need either to bring about a large increase in refractive index, or a large change in the physical size of the lens.

Our innovation was born of the realisation that by leveraging a small refractive index change with a diffractive lens, we could achieve this power change, revolutionising ophthalmics.

With this world-beating proprietary technology, TTP developed the idea into a product, with the manufacturing process for a start-up business being backed by some of the world’s leading VC funds.

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