From extremely distant stars in the sky

Adaptive optics technology was born from the desire to get a better view of the universe. Invented by astrophysicists to improve image quality in ground-based telescopes, it has enabled observing extremely distant stars in the sky.

to extremely small detail in the eye

Imagine Eyes® has taken adaptive optics out of astrophysics laboratories, and transformed it in order to improve image quality in retinal examinations. Our technology has enabled doctors to visualize extremely small detail in patients’ eyes.

Short history of adaptive optics technology

Atmospheric turbulence causes distortions in the light received from stars. What we perceive as the twinkling of stars causes severe blur in the images captured by terrestrial telescopes, to such an extent that many distant stars cannot be seen. Before AO was invented, the only way to get rid of this defect was to send costly orbital telescopes into space.

The principles of adaptive optics (AO) were invented in the 1950’s by the astronomer Horace Babcock. First developed by the US military during the Cold War, the technology was declassified for use in astronomy in the early 1990’s. It has resulted in major discoveries such as planets outside our solar system and a black hole at the center of our galaxy. In the late 1990’s researchers began to explore the potential of AO in ophthalmology.

How it works

When light propagates through optically imperfect media (like the atmosphere), the shape of light waves is altered by distortions that limit image quality. AO technology eliminates such distortions by using four key components:

A mirror that repeatedly reshapes its reflecting surface in order to compensate for wave distortions

An optical sensor that measures the distortions of light waves just after they are reflected by the deformable mirror

Computer and software that iteratively process data received from the wavefront sensor, and drive the deformable mirror. Everytime a new wave distortion is reported by the sensor, the control system commands the mirror to modify its shape in order to correct it.

A distant spot of light produced by shining a laser beam through the atmosphere. This spot is used as a reference light source by the wavefront sensor

Adaptive optics, adapted to eyes

As much as astronomy, ophthalmology can immensely benefit from using AO. Optically speaking, human eyes are far from being perfect: they all suffer from irregularities that distort light waves, the same way as the atmosphere does. As a consequence, retinal examinations have always been limited to a rather low level of detail. Many early signs of diseases, which occur at the level of cells, have remained invisible to eye doctors.

Imagine Eyes has overcome these limitations by engineering an AO technology compatible for living eyes. As a result, its medical devices now enable examining microscopic detail – including cells – in patients’ retinas.

HASO™ : Hartmann-Shack wavefront sensor technology, optimized for operation in living eyes. Read more…

mirao™ : electromagnetic deformable mirror technology, designed for ophthalmic applications. Read more…

WaveTune™ : comprehensive adaptive optics software technology, packaged in a turnkey application. Read more…

rtx1™ : AO technology integrated in a clinician-friendly retinal imaging device that offers cellular resolution. Read more…

AOdetect™ : Biomarker software technology, for micro-morphometric analyzes of retinal blood vessels and cells. Read more…