Collin Arocho
7 September 2020

Imec and its affiliated CMST research group at Ghent University (UGhent), together with Holst Centre and Madrid’s Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria Fundación Jiménez Díaz, have unveiled a prototype of a cutting-edge smart contact lens. The lens, which consists of an iris-mimicking aperture that employs tunable concentric rings on integrated LCDs, aids with the regulation of the amount of light that reaches the pupil. By adopting an ultra-low power design, Imec’s smart lens offers sufferers of human eye iris deficiencies like aniridia, high-order aberrations like keratoconus and light sensitivity or photophobia a device that can last an entire day.

Imec iris
Credit: UGhent

In all, the number of people suffering from these iris deficiencies is estimated at around 20 million. Current solutions, like contact lenses with a fixed iris, artificial iris implants and glasses with variable transparency, offer some relief but fail to fully mimic the functionality of the iris, resulting in impeded vision. Imec’s artificial lens, however, is capable of dynamically changing the pupil size, thus allowing for light adaptation and expanded depth-of-focus.

“By combining our expertise on miniaturized flexible electronics, low-power ASIC design and hybrid integration, we’ve demonstrated the capacity to develop a solution for people who suffer from iris deficiencies,” says research professor Andrés Vásquez Quintero of Imec/UGhent. “This way, our approach can surpass current solutions to combat human eye iris deficiencies. Its beneficial optical effects will be further clinically validated and developed into a medical device.”