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Automated Eyesight Testing May Make “Better One or Better Two” Obsolete

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Posted July 25, 2019

Using phoropter technology developed at the UA James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences, startup iCrx aims to shorten and ease visits to the eye doctor.

The inventors have developed a way to automate the process of measuring a person’s required prescription without the need for verbal input from the patient. Current methods use bulky, expensive equipment, and testing takes 10-20 minutes. The new see-through auto-phoropter produces a prescription for glasses or contact lenses in less than 20 seconds and with much better accuracy than existing methods.

“This is a new technology that may revolutionize eye care for millions of people,” said Nasser Peyghambarian, a professor of optical sciences at the UA and a member of the inventing team that also includes Dr. Gholam Peyman, a professor at the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix and inventor of Lasik surgery, optics professor Jim Schwiegerling and graduate assistant Nickolaos Savidis.

The hand-held device iCrx will bring to market is smaller, faster and much less expensive than current equipment, as it does not require a large number of lenses; instead, it uses a series of fluidic lenses that can change their focal length by pumping fluid in and out of a chamber.

According to the inventors, the new compact, automated phoropter will ease the process of examining more challenging populations, such as children and aging adults, who might not be able to provide accurate feedback when using conventional phoropters. It is ideal for kiosk operations at drug stores and doctors’ offices, as a doctor is not required to operate the instrument. The technology is also well-suited for use in developing countries due to its low cost and ease of use.

“I’m proud of how hard the team worked on this,” said Amy Phillips, recently retired licensing manager for the College of Optical Science at Tech Launch Arizona. “We worked together to bring this invention out of the lab, and searched for licensees and other champions to move the work forward. We also applied Asset Development funds from Tech Launch Arizona to prove the concept of the compact binocular design.”

Through its Asset Development program, Tech Launch Arizona provides funding to prepare early-stage inventions for commercialization through activities like prototyping, exploring scalability and confirming functionality. In the case of this technology, the team used those funds to manufacture the membrane and optical fluids for the fluidic lenses, develop the automated system software, and fabricate the holographic optical elements to create an adaptive see-through prototype.

The startup has already received funding from Tucson’s UAVenture Capital to develop the technology and advance it through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval process.

Source: University of Arizona, by Alison Mairena.

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