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Optics and Eye Diagnostic Advancements

The eye is one of the most powerful organs in the human body. Health problems, such as blindness, underlying genetic disorders, or diabetic retinopathy, are being detected and treated with new and updated medical technologies due to the developments made on optical research grade systems and portable point of care devices. Edmund Optics® aspheric lenses and achromatic lenses are often used in optical devices to image the eye and all of its cells, layers, and nerves. The spherical aberration correction of aspheric lenses allows them to obtain very high quality images of the fine structures of the eye, while the color correction of achromatic lenses allows them to achieve high performance when using broadband illumination sources. Our broadband anti-reflection coatings have wide transmission bands to encompass various LEDs or laser based sources in the UV, visible, and NIR wavelength ranges. Anti-reflection coatings can also be applied to any of our optics to ensure multi-modal imaging.

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Ailments of the Eye

Below are common ailments of the eye that are detected by advanced diagnostic technology. These ailments occur for a variety of reasons such as age or blunt trauma, but are more easily detected and treated due to optical advancements within the industry, which provides a means for updating medical technology and equipment for quick, portable, and simplified use.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Damage to the retinaA thin layer that resides at the back of the eye, which contains cells sensitive to light. These cells trigger a nerve impulse that passes from the optic nerve to the brain, forming a visual image that we process as sight. The cells sensitive to light are known as photoreceptors. onset by diabetes, often leads to blindness. Accounts for 12% of all new cases of blindness in the US, and affects approximately 80% of those suffering from diabetes for an extended period.


Age-related macular degeneration, a medical condition that causes blurred or no vision at the central field of vision. This condition is onset by damage to photoreceptorsA type of neuron found in the retina that converts light into signals that our brain processes as an image. There are two types of photoreceptor cells known as rods and cones, which work in tandem to form the images that we see. in the macula of the retina and while it rarely leads to total blindness, AMD greatly reduces the ability to see objects or people clearly, if at all.


Eye disease that causes damage to the optic nerveSensory fiber that carries electrical impulses generated by the photoreceptors in the retina to the brain, where they are processed. and vision loss. The loss of vision is slow and gradual, making glaucoma often overlooked and untreated. It is the 2nd leading cause of blindness around the world.


A clouding of the lensTransparent, flexible tissue located directly behind the iris and pupil. It helps focus light onto the retina and provides 25-35% of the eye’s focusing power. A lens changes its curved shape to adjust its focus. in the eye resulting in vision loss. Most commonly onset by age, it can also occur via blunt trauma or poor health. Cataracts account for half of the world’s blindness.
Figure 1: Diagram of the Eye Anatomy

Diagnostic Techniques for Aliments

There are a variety of advanced diagnostic techniques used to treat diseases and ailments of the eye. More and more techniques and devices are emerging due to the progression of optical technology, increasing the accuracy and timeliness of which ailments are diagnosed and providing a pathway for understanding and finding cures for incurable diseases.


Laser eye surgery intended to correct human vision. LASIK is a refractive surgery to correct myopia and astigmatism by using a laser to reshape the cornea of the eye, therefore improving visual acuity.


Branch of medicine that deals with the anatomy, study, and diseases of the eye. The eye is one of the leading indicators for diagnosing a number of serious ailments. Due to the eyes ease of access and high level of transmission, it has become the “gold standard” for non-invasive medical imaging through various means and technologies such as optical coherence tomography (OCT).


Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a powerful medical imaging technique which utilizes light to capture high resolution, three dimensional images from optical scatter in biological tissue. The principles are based off of simple interferometry with near infrared light to effectively penetrate the biological medium. There is a tradeoff to depth penetration and resolution that other technologies can address, but OCT is often coupled with these to ensure accuracy and multi model images.

Biometrics / Pupil Recognition

Automated biometric identification using mathematical algorithms to identify and properly recognize an individual’s iris/pupil. This form of biometric recognition is very reliable, as a human’s eye pattern is completely unique, stable over long periods of time, and can be distinguished and recognized over a great distance.

Product Spotlight

Aspheric Lenses

Aspheric lenses feature surface profiles that are not spherical or cylindrical, but have a radius of curvature that varies radially from the center of the lens. Their most notable benefit is their ability to correct for spherical aberration and producing high resolution images. Aspheric lenses are used in many techniques including OCT, biometrics, and LASIK surgery.

Comparison of Spherical and Aspheric surface profiles
Figure 1: Comparison of Spherical and Aspheric surface optics
Figure 1: Spherical aberration in a Spherical Lens (left) vs an Aspheric Lens (right)
Figure 2: Spherical aberration in a Spherical Lens (left) vs an Aspheric Lens (right)
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Anatomy, benefits, and manufacturing methods

Optical Lenses

TECHSPEC® Aspherized Achromatic Lenses

Optical Lenses

TECHSPEC® Plastic Hybrid Aspheric Lenses

Achromatic Lenses

Achromatic lenses consist of two optical components cemented together and are designed to limit the effects of chromatic and spherical aberration. They are used in many devices to diagnose conditions of the eye such as Fundus cameras and broadband OCT systems that utilize the full wavelength spectrum.

Polychromatic Imaging using a Plano-Convex Lens versus an Achromatic Lens
Figure 3: Polychromatic Imaging using a Plano-Convex Lens versus an Achromatic Lens
Achromats and their Advantages

Achromats and their Advantages

TECHSPEC® YAG-BBAR Coated Achromatic Lenses

TECHSPEC® YAG-BBAR Coated Achromatic Lenses

TECHSPEC® Mounted Achromatic Lens Pairs

TECHSPEC® Mounted Achromatic Lens Pairs

Standard Singlet and Off-the-Shelf-Optics

When in doubt, go standard! Standard or off-the-shelf optics provide numerous advantages for those designing or creating prototypes. Unlike custom optics, standard optics offer lower prices, in-stock availability, short lead times, no yield efficiency issues, and more.

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Designing with Off-the-Shelf Optics

TECHSPEC® λ/20 PCX Lenses

TECHSPEC® λ/20 PCX Lenses

TECHSPEC® Beam Shaping PCX Cylinder Lenses

TECHSPEC® Beam Shaping PCX Cylinder Lenses

Case Studies

3nethra, by Forus Health, plays a critical role in preventing treatable blindness worldwide
Figure 4: 3nethra, by Forus Health, plays a critical role in preventing treatable blindness worldwide

Forus Health

Forus Health leveraged EO’s optical design expertise and off-the-shelf components to build 3nethra, an affordable and portable ophthalmic device for diagnosing preventable eye diseases in India. India has a low ratio of ophthalmologists to population, and this easy-to-use device helps identify and prevent cataracts and glaucoma, along with diabetic retina, refraction, and cornea problems.


Retinal Health Assessment (RHATM) Instrument
Figure 5: Retinal Health Assessment (RHATM) Instrument

Annidis Corporation

The Annidis Corporation built a non-invasive, multi-spectral digital ophthalmoscope called the Retinal Health Assessment (RHATM) Instrument primarily using stock optics. The device is used to image multiple planes in the retina and choroid to detect signs of disease or degeneration.

Stephan Briggs

Edmund Optics® Mission for Eye Diagnostics

  • Design and manufacture optics to improve global eye health
  • Facilitate optical system development to correctly diagnose neglected and emerging eye diseases around the world such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, presbyopia, and glaucoma
  • Enable easy-to-use optical devices for physicians, optometrists, nurses, or technicians to quickly and accurately diagnose with the push of a button
  • Research and develop innovative optical components to advance point of care devices for impoverished regions or populations without access to modern healthcare
  • Advance noninvasive optical diagnostics techniques to reduce the global burden that vision diseases cause on general eye health
left quotation mark I want to help customers accelerate the development of non-invasive medical techniques
and systems that utilize light and advanced optics.  
right quotation mark

--Stephan Briggs, Biomedical Engineer and Advanced Diagnostics Expert