While the majority of patients with common vision problems can find glasses or contact lenses fairly easily, others who suffer from diseases of the eye that affect the focus of light have more limited options and may simply have to learn to live with reasonably good vision. At the University of Houston’s College of Optometry, a team of researchers has set out to address the latter population’s long underserved needs by developing custom contact lenses.
“The lenses we make are made for you. It’s like putting a fingerprint in the optics. It would not work for another individual with the same disease. It’s a custom fit, a designer lens,” said Dr. Jason Marsack, a research assistant professor of optometry.
Supported by a nearly $2 million grant from the National Eye Institute, Marsack said the team aims to give patients with elevated amounts of what are known as “higher-order aberrations” the quality of life long enjoyed by those with common vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. The grant will help translate the results the team has realized in laboratory trials into products that will be available for widespread clinical use.
Ultimately, the team would like to see custom lenses become the standard of care, and he emphasizes that the College of Optometry is uniquely positioned to determine how best to serve the needs of patients with highly aberrated optics.
“We’re not only recruiting our patients from the University Eye Institute downstairs and quantifying the optical properties we need. We’re also building and evaluating the lenses*,” Marsack said.
The College of Optometry is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston. I’m Marisa Ramirez.
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* Lathe video courtesy of YouTube.