PhD Optical Engineer
After literally years of work, At Wooptix we have developed a technology that provides the ocular wavefront with a resolution of around one million points within the eye’s pupil. This implies a lateral resolution of five microns (approximately the size of a laser spot in laser corneal refractive surgery).
It is the first time that is possible to visualize the optics of the human eye in such detail. As a scientist, the images take my breath away as they are full of detail that one could not expect. I am sure that I could dedicate my entire research career using this technology to carry out scientific research and, even so, I would still lack of time.
However, the (reasonable) question that I am most often asked is: «ok. But, what is that for? » Faced with this question, I can only dream about it. I could enter the realm of speculation and say that it will allow the emergence of new techniques and algorithms for refractive surgery, which may play a major role in light-adjustable intraocular lenses or intraoperative aberrometry, which will play an important role in the diagnosis or monitoring of diseases, which will allow us to learn about fundamental concepts of human vision among other stuff.
But the real answer is that I do not know -yet. It may or may not do all that. The reality is that we are gathering information that no one has ever seen before and is still difficult to interpret. I think this technology may lead to some major scientific discovery. However, it will take some time to find out what exactly we are discovering.
In consumer electronics there is a tendency, sometimes irrational, to believe that the more resolution the better. The ordinary user demands more and more resolution in the mobile phones and cameras even though the limit perceived by the human eye has long been exceeded. Is it possible that this increased resolution in the characterization of the ocular optics responds to a similar impulse without any real practical application?
Let me tell you a story. There is no doubt that, nowadays, the presence of Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is essential in any medical consultation where the living retina must be examined in detail. However, the commercial beginnings of ocular OCT were complicated since its invention in 1991. While it provided unexpected and surprisingly detailed visualization of posterior eye structures, initially and for some years after, it didn’t have a success at the height of the invention. The ophthalmologists simply didn’t know what to do with this new information that they had never seen before. So, from the first commercial model in 1996 to the second generation in 2001, only ~400 instruments had been sold worldwide. At that time, abandoning the development of ocular OCTs was seriously considered (fortunately, this did not happen).
Can you imagine today’s ophthalmology without OCTs?