Using Big Data and A.I. to Advance the Design and Digital Manufacture of Progressive Lenses

By Deborah Kotob, ABOM

Release Date: December, 2018

Expiration Date: January 31, 2020

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this program, the participant should:

  1. Learn how Big Data and A.I. have been used by Shamir in the design of their most advanced progressive Shamir Autograph Intelligence.
  2. Learn about Continuous Design Technology.
  3. Learn how Visual Age correlates with visual needs and how the Shamir Autograph Intelligence design matches the two.

Faculty/Editorial Board:

Deborah Kotob Deborah Kotob, ABOM, is currently director of education for Jobson Medical Information LLC, has more than 20 years of experience as an optician. With over 10 years in lens manufacturing as a Sales Consultant, Trainer and LMS content developer. She lectures, trains and conducts webinars on a variety of optical and practice development topics.

Credit Statement:

This course is approved for one (1) hour of CE credit by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO). Technical Level 2 Course STJHI230-2


This is a product spotlight CE supported by an educational grant from SHAMIR.

In this course, we will learn about Shamir's new progressive lens design methodology and technology. We will learn how their newest, most advanced progressive lens, Shamir Autograph Intelligence employs Big Data and progressive lens demographic analytics to create a design that optimally matches the wearer's Visual Age and visual needs. We will learn how they harness today's cutting-edge technologies and artificial intelligence (A.I.) to produce a new continuous design concept. Shamir believes that this combination of big data, A.I. and digital technology culminates in a revolutionary and the first of its kind progressive design.


We can all agree that in general, the best optical solution for the presbyope is a progressive lens. A progressive lens conveniently allows one to focus at all distances— far, intermediate and near. But this technology is not without its challenges. Fortunately, the new age of information and digital manufacturing and artificial intelligence (smart algorithms) harkens the era of an intelligent vision revolution.

Freeform technology propelled progressive lens manufacturing forward due to the development of specialized computer numeric controlled generators and specialized multi-axis lathes. These new design and production tools allowed for the directto-surface application of complex lens surfaces as mapped by the data points file. These new capabilities allow us to produce a wide variety of progressive lens designs, optimized for as-worn frame fit parameters and for a specific use or profession, and all based on advanced design technologies to simulate natural vision. The progressive wearer benefits both optically and cosmetically from a high degree of optical precision and lens surface optimization.

Over the years, as lifestyles and work habits changed, this required that progressive lens designs be adapted to meet these changes in visual needs, from traditional progressive lenses, which provided a solution mostly for the far and near vision zones, to progressive lenses that help us see better in our digitally connected lifestyle as evidenced by today's increased use of desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Fashion trends also influenced the structure of progressive lenses. When smaller frames became fashionable, the world of lens development adapted and designed a progressive lens with shorter corridors.

Progressive lens designs were adapted to sports and outdoor activities, some with wrap frames and others with standard frames.


All these variations of progressive lenses were based on the principle of using the same design concept to provide everyone regardless of their visual age, with the same solution. In other words, it was based on the idea that everyone's visual needs are more or less the same.

Every type of lens has unique characteristics that are expressed in every Rx. The art of tradeoff between the width of vision zones, unwanted astigmatism, softness and other parameters lends itself to design variations.


Currently, the most popular form of personalization in progressive lenses is based on the frame choice. The lens design compensates according to the position of the glasses as worn on the patient's face—panoramic (wrap) angle, pantoscopic tilt and back vertex distance (BVD).

Although there are different personalized designs available, the most popular designs compensate for the optical effects of the frame on-face fit, aka as-worn position. Personalized design parameters calculate the best lens surface design based on the position of wear measurements; back vertex distance (BVD), pantoscopic tilt and wrap or panoramic angle.


Another attempt at improving progressive lens performance relative to the patient needs utilized lifestyle information obtained through a questionnaire. The purpose was to allow the dispenser to gain the information needed to match the wearer's visual needs with the best progressive lens solution(s) available. However, the necessity for short and quick questionnaires precludes the effectiveness of this data to determine the best progressive lens design options. The result is that the dispenser must rely on their knowledge of the performance of various lenses in the belief that they are matching the most suitable lens to their patient. But can one really be aware of all the features of all the available lenses from every manufacturer? I suggest that this is highly improbable!


So… How can we help the ECPs select the best lens to best match the patient's visual needs, while keeping the dispensing process simple and stress-free? To address this question, Shamir has harnessed the capabilities of the emerging and rapidly growing fields of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence.


Looking at a huge database of information collected from extensive sources gives us a view of the real world. Big Data analytics allows us to process, analyze and learn from large sets of data, sometimes revealing interesting and previously unnoticed patterns.

Big Data analysis allowed Shamir to map today's lens wearer distribution by Rx and to study behavior patterns and visual needs of presbyopes. The correlations discovered between these parameters assisted in the building of an optimal solution that meets the progressive customer visual needs, according to chronologically related visual needs.


A database housing information from over five million lens orders was collected by Shamir over the past few years regarding, among other things, the manufacture of progressive Rx lenses. The following chart illustrates the distribution of progressive lenses per sphere and addition, based on approximately five million worldwide orders of Shamir progressive lenses. (See Table 1)

table 1

With Sphere Power, a natural bell distribution was obtained, with a peak range of plano to +1.00 lenses. Close to 90 percent of job orders fall within +/-5.00. Only 20 percent is for correction of myopes, while almost 50 percent are hyperopes above +1.00. You can already see how revealing this information is, and how it permits the refinement of design parameters based on vision correction power and population distribution.


Today's progressive lenses are based on the idea that "everyone is more or less the same." However, the results of Shamir's Big Data analytics calls this approach into question, with Visual Age being a key visual Needs per Visual Age.


Regarding Progressive Addition Power, the data reveals a clear pattern. The curve peaks at add 2.50D. Only 18 percent of lenses have addition power lower than 2.00, while 19 percent have additions higher than 2.50D. More than 60 percent of the manufactured lenses have additions of 2.00 to 2.50.

At higher addition powers, the trend for fewer orders over 2.50D is quite reasonable since theoretically, with the loss of accommodation amplitude one would need 2.50D addition power for reading at 40 cm. There are various schools of thought among ECPs in different geographic locations or optometry schools. Some ECPs recommend higher additions only for special pathologies or particularly poor vision, closer reading and so on. On the other hand, others prescribe high additions more often. The highest rate of high additions occurs in Europe. From other areas, additions above 2.50 are rarely prescribed.

As for low additions, the data obtained across geographic locations consistently shows that younger presbyopes enter the world of progressive lenses late, even though they undoubtedly would benefit significantly from their use earlier on. These same presbyopes use reading glasses to meet critical needs, but these glasses do not provide a complete solution for today's intermediate and digital device working distance needs. What's more, they cause ongoing visual and postural discomfort due to the further development of their presbyopia. Entering the world of progressives only when higher additions are required leads to adaptation difficulties or a longer adaptation period.

There are several reasons for the late adoption of progressive lenses among younger presbyopes. They may be concerned about being able to get used to a more complicated lens, or they may feel it labels them as "aging." ECPs are cautious about putting this group of emerging presbyopes in a progressive lens design due to worries that the patient won't be able to adapt and resulting in possibly having to redo the order, which may deter them to offering progressive lenses to younger presbyopes.

Visual Age refers to the physiological age of the eye (the required addition power) and is generally correlated with the patient's chronological age.

Visual Age is a new concept developed through data analysis by Shamir, to help match the patient's best progressive lens design to their visual needs based on their Visual Age factor. A patient may still be young, and look and feel young, but their eyes may need some extra support for close and intermediate tasks. The question that ultimately led to the development of the new advanced progressive lens, Shamir Autograph Intelligence, was this: Is there a correlation between Visual Age and visual needs?

To answer this question, two studies were conducted: 1. An external research into the behavior and habits of presbyopes, and the full range of their visual needs, and 2. An internal study consisting of in-depth interviews with clinical trials, to better define visual preferences. Before embarking on these studies, categories of visual needs were defined.


Daily activities are divided among 5 major categories based mainly on viewing distance:

  1. Far vision used mainly for outdoor activities such as driving, walking, etc.
  2. Switch distances frequency refers to eyes switching focus from one vision zone to another.
  3. Intermediate vision used mainly during office work in front of a desktop computer.
  4. Digital reading mainly used for handheld digital devices such as smartphones and tablets.
  5. Near vision used mainly during writing or reading a book, newspaper, etc.


The external research was conducted in the United States on a large population of 1,300 presbyopes regarding their behaviors and habits. The research subjects included 62 percent women and 38 percent men, all over 40 years of age, from a range of socio-economic levels and geographically dispersed throughout the U.S.

The research subjects were asked to complete a detailed questionnaire regarding their lifestyle. The questionnaires asked respondents how much time they spend on a variety of tasks, what activities they regularly engage in (that define their lifestyle), what devices they regularly use and for how long, and all questions related differentially to weekdays and weekends.

Respondents' habits were examined regarding the following tasks: 1. Driving. 2. Amount of time using a computer during the day. 3. Outdoor activities such as sports engaged in. 4. Use of smartphone or tablets—whether for phone calls or other uses such as reading, surfing the Internet, games, etc. 5. Frequency of smartphone use—how many times per hour the respondent looks at their phone, and 6. Varied use of the Internet—for online shopping, reading and so on.

In addition, the questionnaire asked about vision correction: Do you use glasses or contact lenses? If so, for what purpose—distance viewing/near viewing. When was your last eye examination?

We organized our research data into age groups for each visual need. At a later stage, we converted the age groups to Visual Age, based on commonly accepted charts that correlate chronological age and required lens addition.


During 2017 to 2018, Shamir's R&D department conducted internal research. Research subjects included 130 presbyopes, ages 40 to 80. They underwent a comprehensive interview with clinical trials conducted by Shamir's optical designers and optometrists. The aim was to ascertain definitively, each subject's visual needs based on their behavior and habits; the activities engaged in during work hours, at home, during hobbies, outdoors and so on. The overall aim was to fit each person with a "personal lens" ideally suited to their needs.

The respondents were also requested to rate the importance of various visual needs to their lifestyle. The results of this research closely corresponded with those of the external research about visual needs as a function of Visual Age.

The second phase of this study included a clinical verification comparing a washout pair of lenses (base line design) to a specially designed lens adapted to the visual preference profile of the wearer. These specially designed lenses became the prototypes for the new "genes" to create Shamir Autograph Intelligence lenses.


Far Vision—Presbyopes of all ages tend to spend on average the same number of hours per week outdoors, with this number increasing slightly with age.

Intermediate Vision and Digital Reading—The study revealed a clear trend regarding the use of handheld digital devices—the younger the subject, the greater the use. Younger subjects use smartphones or tablets more than desktops. As age increases, use of digital devices decreases, with desktops more used than handheld devices. Middleaged presbyopes demonstrate the high use of both. Data on age-related usage of digital devices is clearly illustrated in the graphs below.

Near Vision—When asked about reading habits, use of the near viewing zone, respondents demonstrated a clear trend: the use of and the importance of the near vision zone increases with the age of presbyopes. Most reading by younger presbyopes is of digital devices, less of printed material. In contrast, presbyopes of age 60-plus indicated that the near vision zone had the highest importance among their visual needs.


One of the more interesting findings of the research showed that not only does the importance of visual distances vary among presbyopes by age, but also the amount of dynamic viewing—switching from one vision zone to another—changes with age. Younger presbyopes tend to display far more dynamic viewing, indicating that the need for flexibility and switching between vision zones is higher for their age group. This group looks at their smartphone more than five times an hour.

Big Data analysis of both the external and internal Shamir research reveals a consistent trend with a high correlation between the two. At different Visual Ages, various visual zones are preferred reflecting the age-related difference in visual needs. In other words— visual needs are a function of Visual Age.


The following diagram summarizes the research results regarding age-related preference of visual zone.

The diagram illustrates the varying profiles per Visual Age.

  1. Younger presbyopes need a good solution for digital reading and support for dynamic vision. Near vision has lower priority. Reading is mainly done on handheld digital devices.
  2. Advanced presbyopes, by contrast, need a good solution for far and near vision. They exhibit less switch distances frequency and intermediate vision, and digital reading is a lower priority.
  3. Middle-aged presbyopes demonstrate balanced visual needs overall. All vision zones hold more or less equal importance.


Current progressive lenses provide a reasonably good solution for visual needs, but they do not accommodate the changing visual needs associated with Visual Age. According to research findings, these differences develop gradually with age. It follows then, that any progressive design available today that takes an "everyone's the same regardless of age" approach, will only meet the needs of a limited few while disappointing many others. This new design technology broadly expands the number of presbyopic patients who will have their visual needs met in their progressive lenses.

The diagrams below illustrate the differences between an "everyone's the same" design concept, that is, a balanced design giving equal attention to every vision zone, and the actual visual needs of most of the population.


Realizing a correlation between visual needs and Visual Age exposes the need for a progressive lens that meets the unique visual needs of specific age groups. Rather than a lens design that assumes all visual needs are the same across age groups, a lens design had to be developed that takes visual diversity into account. ECPs tried to accomplish this with a manual approach, using time-consuming and imperfect questionnaires to ferret out likely visual needs. Now visual diversity is accounted for through the development of Shamir's Continuous Design Technology. Using this new technology, the optical designers integrated multiple design genes based on 12 different design concepts, one for each Visual Age. This continuum of gradual change in the design that matches visual needs to Visual Age forms the foundation of Shamir Autograph Intelligence. These lenses are uniquely designed progressive lenses to enable comfortable viewing ideally adapted to changing visual needs, with no need to compromise.

This new design technology also promises that individuals whose habits deviate from the Visual Age profile will still receive a satisfyingly personalized lens thanks to the new concept of Continuous Design Technology.

To understand the different lens design concepts, we need to compare designs for different Visual Ages. To make the comparison, values are normalized based on the design parameters and expressed in percentages of the nominal addition. Below are some examples, illustrated by accompanying diagrams, comparing Shamir Autograph Intelligence lenses per Visual Age, with current lens design.


In the current lens design, the maximum cylinder is quite constant—between 90 percent to 100 percent of the nominal addition for the entire range. In Shamir Autograph Intelligence, the maximum cylinder ratio significantly grows with Visual Age, with values between 68 percent to 102 percent, demonstrating a great advantage for younger Visual Ages. At the same time, it directly contributes to ease of vision zone switching, which occurs at a higher frequency among younger presbyopes.


With Continuous Design, the digital reading width of Shamir Autograph Intelligence lenses changes per Visual Age, whereas it remains a fixed value in the current lens design. The relative width of this zone per Visual Age 1.00 is 60 percent higher than for a Visual Age of 3.00. This fully meets the visual needs of those characterized by frequent digital reading.


In the reading area, the addition width (75 percent of addition) changes significantly with Visual Age from 17 degrees to 25 degrees by demonstrated near vision needs. The reading zone width in a current lens design remains 22 degrees to 23 degrees.


IntelliCorridor Technology is the ability to fit the corridor profile to every design configuration. Until now the same corridor concept of a product was applied across all Visual Ages.

This proven technology is now utilized in Shamir Autograph Intelligence progressive designs to provide unique addition progression to suit every Visual Age based on specific visual needs and Head Eye Integrative Movement (HEIM) findings.


Until now, Eye-Point Technology III used simulations of the human eye and real-world images to improve visual acuity and width of vision for every prescription. Using new software, HEIM, developed by Shamir engineers, tracks exactly the areas in the lens through which the patients looks, along with both the vertical and horizontal meridians in the different vision zones. This technology now enables the design of a progressive lens that accounts for the actual viewing angles computed for every distance.

Previously, Shamir designs were based on simulated eye movement. Now Shamir actually knows where the eye looks. Whereas in the past they simulated, now they see.


Visual AI Engine implements the Continuous Design Concept along the entire matrix of optimization parameters including sphere power, addition power, face-form angle, pantoscopic tilt, fitting height, base curve and index of refraction of the lens material. This artificial intelligence algorithm is the engine that runs a multidimensional optimization process. The complex design required for Shamir Autograph Intelligence would have been too demanding to achieve without the new technology of the Visual AI Engine. The end result, according to Shamir, is a breakthrough technology that is ahead of its time, designed with extreme accuracy for each Visual Age.


Shamir Autograph Intelligence is a new progressive lens whose vision zones are designed according to the visual needs of the patient's Visual Age, as demonstrated in their studies. This advanced design technology takes visual diversity into account and provides the right solution for the patient at every Visual Age, and with no need for questionnaires or applications. With this new design technology, Shamir assumes the responsibility for meeting patients' needs, thereby releasing the ECP and the patient from the need for a time-consuming lifestyle interview or questionnaire. The dispenser confidently provides the optimal visual solution for every Visual Age without compromise. Shamir Autograph Intelligence provides a better visual solution to a broader population of presbyopes, in one product. What's more, given future lifestyle changes and increasing longevity, visual needs per Visual Age may vary and change. Shamir's new technology and design concept opens the door for continuous evolution of this lens design concept.