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Open Access Inventing a New Way to See Clearly: Non-invasive Vision Correction with Femtosecond Lasers

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Ever since the first documented use of spectacles for vision correction around the mid-1200s, we have been looking for better ways to correct human vision. A wide range of technologies have been developed to correct vision, including eyeglasses that now can help mitigate presbyopia, more comfortable contact lenses that can be used for extended times, intraocular lenses for treating cataracts, and, most recently, LASIK surgery for cutting and reshaping the human cornea directly. All of these are invasive to certain degrees, and it is desirable to develop less invasive forms of vision correction. We have developed an alternative approach to vision correction involving directly changing the index of refraction of ophthalmic materials by femtosecond laser micromachining. We discuss metrology, wavefront, and human visual testing results in hydrogel materials that are commonly used for contact lenses and intraocular lenses, as well as fully scaled vision correctors written directly into the cornea stroma layer in live eyes. This new technique has been developed to be non-invasive and has a significant accompanying patent portfolio. We describe the research and development efforts, which started in 2003, leading to this new approach to vision correction that we refer to as LIRIC: Light Induced Refractive Index Change.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2019

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  • Technology and Innovation, edited and published by the National Academy of Inventors, is a forum for presenting information encompassing the entire field of applied sciences, with a focus on transformative technology and academic innovation. Regular features of T&I include commentaries contributed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and in-depth profiles of Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors in every issue.

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