MEMS can be used to create adaptive optics chips which
can be used for wavefront correction systems. There are a variety of
application for wavefront correction systems ranging from advanced military
targeting systems to preview systems for advanced LASIK surgery.
Adaptive Optics systems are in use today on large
Astronomical telescopes. Adaptive optics remove the optical
imperfections that result from peering through the atmosphere. These systems
are built today with expensive macro technology. While they work very
well, these systems are very expensive. Large telescopes are not that
sensitive to costs, so they can readily afford the present significant costs
in order to improve the quality of the images that see. More
widespread adoption of adaptive optics, and wavefront correction is
hampered, however, by the significant costs of traditional systems.
MEMS offer the promise of achieving low cost adaptive
optics systems. With lower cost, there are many applications which
could benefit from wavefront correction. Some applications under
consideration for a low cost adaptive optics system include preview systems
for LASIK surgery, ophthalmic phoropters, and fundus imaging systems. Fundus
imaging systems are used by eye doctors to image the retina, and detect
degenerative eye disease. The challenge is that image quality from
present systems is poor, and the disease can be in advanced stages before a
doctor can detect it. Improving the image quality through use of
affordable MEMS adaptive optics systems will allow surgeons to detect
degenerative eye disease at much earlier stages where it is easier to treat,
and before vision is affected.
MEMS chips have been created to meet the demanding
requirements of the vision science community. The chip will enable the creation of high performance, cost effective
adaptive optics systems. The vision science community has significant
interest in obtaining such systems for a variety of ophthalmic applications.
This chip will enable a true paradigm shift, and will permit the placement
of high performance imaging systems into the hands of ophthalmologists and
optometrists. These chips should enable order of magnitude
improvements in the doctor's ability to image the retina, and as such, will
dramatically increase the ability to diagnose degenerative ophthalmic
conditions while they are still treatable. Enhanced capabilities in fundus
imaging will enable earlier detection of disease, better measurement of
treatment effectiveness, and the development of improved treatment methods.