Inverse Optical Design of the Human Eye

Case ID:

Researchers at The University of Arizona and the National University of Ireland, Galway, are developing an innovative method to estimate the full set of patient-specific ocular parameters using wavefront sensors. This 'inverse optical design' method maps the entire eye and shows potential for very low uncertainties. It promises a complete patient-specific eye model, providing substantial improvements in vision science and ophthalmology such as vision correction, retinal imaging, and surgical procedures, enabling research and applications previously unapproachable.

The 'inverse optical design' approach is the opposite of traditional optical design. Data consist of raw detector outputs from a Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor, and parameters in the eye model are then determined via maximum-likelihood estimation methods.

Adaptive optics technology using wavefront sensors is currently making profound contributions to vision science and ophthalmology. It provides eye specialists with superior techniques for studying and correcting human vision, and for the early detection and treatment of visual diseases. 


  • Complete eye mapping to evaluate vision performance and quality and statistically compare variability between patients
  • In vivo gradient-index (GRIN) distribution and lenticular geometry of the crystalline lens as function of age and accommodation
  • Theoretical basis for vision correction of higher-order aberrations in laser refractive surgery or with corrective lenses
  • Developing data bases for clinical diagnosis of pathologies
  • Ocular surface misalignments, e.g. after implantation of lenses in cataract surgery
  • Geometrical parameters of any optical system, e.g., GRIN distribution in commercial lenses


  • Provide in vivo, non-invasive, complete mapping of the eye, revealing dozens of parameters essential to an accurate representation of the eye and its aberrations
  • Knowing an individual's real eye structure facilitates a broad range of vision science studies and treatments ongoing today

Status: issued US Patent #7,832,864 
The University is seeking companies interested in incorporating this technology into their optical testing equipment with application to vision correction, retinal imaging, and surgical procedures. 
Stage of Development: The technology has been reduced to practice.

Patent Information:
Contact For More Information:
Richard Weite
Senior Licensing Manager, College of Optical Sciences
The University of Arizona
Lead Inventor(s):
Harrison Barrett
Julia Sakamoto
Alexander Goncharov