More than four billion people all over the world are reliant on ophthalmic or medical devices to enable them to optimally utilize their vision potential. "Since ZEISS launched the first modern eyeglass lens on the market back in 1912, many major advances have been achieved in the field of ophthalmic optics," said Dr. Raymund Heinen, Head of the ZEISS Vision Care business group. "However, many fundamental visual process are still little understood." In the future, the University of Tübingen in southern Germany and ZEISS will be jointly researching into the fundamental processes involved in vision within the framework of a totally new type of collaboration.
The ZEISS Vision Science Lab opened on Thursday is an additional "Industry on Campus" workgroup at the University of Tübingen. As part of the Excellence Initiative, new collaborative projects with industry are being launched here at the interface between basic research and application orientation. "For the university, this collaboration is an excellent opportunity to break new ground in industrial partnerships and therefore open up new perspectives for application-oriented research," explained Professor Herbert Müther, Pro-rector for Research at the University of Tübingen.
Today, ZEISS can already correct numerous visual defects with eyeglass lenses that are tailored to the needs of each individual wearer. Thousands of parameters are taken into account to enhance visual acuity, contrast and color vision, UV protection and visual quality in the twilight, at night or in difficult environmental conditions. Wavefront technology, originally used in astrophysics to compensate for atmospheric disturbances, makes it possible to make a "fingerprint" of the human eye and to take this data into account in the production of individualized lenses.
However, the complex interaction of light waves, the eye, the natural crystalline lens and the eyeglass lens is far from being fully deciphered. When the processing of the image on the retina in the brain and the occurrence of complex visual defects between the crystalline lens and the retina are fully understood, experts predict a significant advance in the treatment of poor vision.
Together with the University of Tübingen, ZEISS is now founding a research laboratory that will investigate this complex interaction. The goal of the ZEISS Vision Science Lab is to gain an understanding of the development of vision, of the interaction of light with the eye and the eyeglass lens, and of the processing of the image in the brain in many different and dynamic situations and, on this basis, to develop new ways of providing natural, optimized vision to each individual wearer. Another item on its agenda is to research into the development of vision and into pathological changes to perception in order to enable their diagnosis by using suitable measuring methods at an early stage. For these patients, this could result in personalized solutions for enhanced vision.
"For us, the University of Tübingen is the partner of choice for this ambitious project," says Bernhard Wittmann, Head of Technology and Innovation at ZEISS Vision Care Business Group. "This totally unique competence cluster of neurology, medicine and ophthalmic optics, the widely recognized excellence of the university´s research and its intensive collaboration with non-university research institutes in the direct vicinity of the campus are key reasons why ZEISS has sought this partnership with the university." Over the next few months the research projects will be defined by the collaborative partners and the subjects for doctoral projects established.