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Imec and Ghent University Develop Artificial Iris

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Imec and CMST, an imec-affiliated research group at Ghent University, along with their partners Instituto de Investigación Fundación Jiménez Díaz and imec’s Holst Centre, have developed an artificial iris embedded in a smart contact lens. 

The aperture of the iris is tunable through concentric rings on an integrated liquid crystal display. The lens is designed to be ultralow power for full-day operation in order to treat conditions such as aniridia, high-order aberrations such as keratoconus, and light sensitivity or photophobia, which is prevalent in patients with chronic migraine and dry-eye syndrome. A performance assessment of the device showed the potential to improve visual sharpness, decrease optical aberrations, and reduce the amount of light entering the eye in a dynamic manner.

“Our smart contact lens can control the level of incoming light, mimicking a human iris and offering a potential solution to vision correction by expanding depth-of-field with automatic control of pupil size,” said research professor Andrés Vásquez Quintero at imec and the University of Ghent. “This way, our approach can surpass current solutions to combat human eye iris deficiencies.”

The collaborators said their prototype will be further developed into a medical device by spinoff incubation initiative Azalea Vision, from imec and Ghent University.

The Azalea Vision team is focused on validating the device with patients and volunteers under clinical investigations to provide a functional, robust, and safe device for diverse eye disorders with light sensitivity and lack of visual sharpness.

The results of the performance assessment were published in Scientific Reports (

Nov/Dec 2020
The adjustable membrane located just in front of the crystalline lens within the eye. The iris gives the eye its color. See also iris diaphragm.
The organ of vision or light sensitivity.
The processes in which luminous energy incident on the eye is perceived and evaluated.
Research & TechnologyIrisBiophotonicscontact lenscontact lensesartificialmedicalIMECGhent UniversityGhenteyevisionhuman visionDisplaysliquid crystal displaysBioScan

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