Aug
2004

Eye Opener

Riding the Wavefront Wave
Andreas Dreher, PhD
President and CEO
Ophthonix

By Andrew Karp

Wavefront technology is one of the most exciting new diagnostic and clinical tools available to eyecare professionals. Currently, its most common use is for refractive surgical applications such as Custom LASIK. Ophthonix, a San Diego-based start-up company, is using wavefront technology to produce new types of ophthalmic and contact lenses. The company is introducing a special aberrometer that measures lower and higher order aberrations in a patient’s eye. These measurements can be programmed onto a lens that can provide up to 20/10 visual acuity with clarity and crispness, according to Ophthonix. The company plans to market ophthalmic lenses beginning in the fourth quarter this year.

L&T asked Ophthonix co-founder and president Dr. Andreas Dreher to explain the company’s technology and discuss its goals.

What is wavefront technology and how does Ophthonix apply it to making ophthalmic or contact lenses?
Wavefront technology is a method to determine the difference of a distorted light wave from an ideal light wave. If the cornea and lens of a patient’s eye were perfect optical elements, a perfect set of plane waves entering the eye would focus onto a very small spot on the retina. However, actual human eyes show a multitude of aberrations that vary with each individual eye and are randomly distributed across the cornea and lens. These so-called high-order aberrations cause a slight blur on the retina. Although this is sub-optimal it is still labeled normal or 20/20 vision.

Wavefront aberrometers shine a known light wave into the eye, detect the wave being reflected off the retina and compare this detected wavefront to the known one shone into the eye. From this comparison, the patient’s refraction is derived.
Ophthonix now is offering the first wavefront aberrometer specifically designed for the dispensing eyecare professional. The Ophthonix Z-View uses a proprietary wavefront sensor that allows us to package this sophisticated technology into an affordable, compact and easy-to-use product. The ECP now can refract a patient objectively and accurately within a few minutes.

Using the results derived from the Ophthonix Z-View, Ophthonix spectacle or contact lenses can be totally customized to an individual patient’s eye, by digitally programming corrections not only for sphere, cylinder and axis but all measured high-order aberrations of the eye.

Ophthonix claims its lenses can deliver up to 20/10 acuity. Why do people need 20/10 acuity? Isn’t 20/20 good enough?
Even when a person sees 20/20, their vision may not be optimized. They will be able to read the 20/20 line in the clinic. However, there are any number of compromises they may be making. These include: marginal distinctiveness in objects and letters; lack of crispness or contrast; ghost images; halos around lighted objects, especially at night; inability to contrast images in low light conditions.

Seeing in low light conditions is where 80 percent of the population would like improvement, most typically exhibited with nighttime driving. We find this to be true across all age segments. The Ophthonix vision optimization solution will address these areas of compromise and allow a patient to see at the peak of their optical capability by improving perceivable contrast and crispness. Personal vision optimization could mean for some patients still having “only” 20/20 or 20/15 vision, but finally without any fuzziness; and for some, this could mean 20/10. Thinking of it in other terms, the difference between the Ophthonix vision correction solution and conventional lens approaches is analogous to the difference between regular television and high-definition (HD) TV.

How much training is needed to operate the Z-View?
Despite its sophistication as a diagnostic instrument, it is very straightforward. For most clinicians it will take less than 30 minutes of training.

How will you introduce the system?
Our plan is to make the technology easy, affordable and readily available for the practitioner, and it will be presented to them by our direct sales force. We will be partnering with them to devise a program that works best for them and their patients, including promotional support.
We will be exhibiting the Z-View and taking orders at Vision Expo West, AAO, SECO and Vision Expo East. Our direct sales representatives will be making calls to accounts. Beginning in August, ECPs can place orders via our web site, www.ophthonix.com.

 

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