Optical Diagnosis and Correction Techniques for Macular Degeneration

Tech ID: 21094 / UC Case 2010-752-0

Brief Description

A novel method for measuring the precise visual distortion experienced by an individual MD patient. This measurement is the stepping stone for the development of updateable visual aids.


Age-related macular degeneration results in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field. It is an incurable disease and a major cause of vision loss in older adults, typically in patients age 50 or older (and the leading cause of vision loss in patients over 60). MD affects the shape of each patient’s macula differently, causing different levels of vision distortion. Due to the lengthening average life-expectancy, MD has become increasingly common. Effective, easily updated and easily customized devices to correct the vision distortions caused by MD are critically needed to maintain quality of life for patients with MD.


Nobel Laureate Dr. Walter Kohn and James Klingshirn have developed a novel method for measuring the precise visual distortion experienced by an individual MD patient. This measurement is of inherent interest as a geometric diagnosis. It is also the stepping stone for the development of updateable visual aids, including computer software, handheld devices, and in a preliminary way, eyeglasses or contacts.


Macular Degeneration Diagnostic Process – The novel test uses a standard personal computer and with a specialized image of the Amsler Grid. An undistorted Amsler grid is presented to the patient. Using a computer mouse or a touch screen and specialized software, the patient is requested to reconstruct the Amsler grid so it appears uniform and undistorted to the patient. This procedure quantifies the geometry of the distortions experienced by the patient. It is easy to use and brief to administer, and is intuitive to the patient. This system has been successfully tested in an ophthalmologist office. 



(Source “Living Well with Macular Degeneration”) 


Visual Aid Tools – Once the precise distortion experienced by an individual patient is understood quantitatively through the new diagnostic process, the visual distortions caused by MD can be compensated for by calculating and applying a customized correction factor. Potential visual aid tools can include an interactive software program to allow materials to be viewed on a computer screen without distortion, a handheld camera/screen device (such as a smart phone) that can correct for distortions while scanning a scene, image or text, or as a hand-held glass or plastic device to be placed directly on reading material. The following video illustrates the process of applying a compensating distortion using a computer:


VIDEO EXAMPLE  (Right click / Play)


Ophthalmic Devices - This technology employs a similar approach to standard eyeglass corrections to solve a geometrically more challenging problem. The distortion caused by MD is corrected by appropriately modifying the geometry of a plate of optical material such as glass. The modified geometry causes light rays to be appropriately refracted as they travel from the reading material or other object viewed by an MD patient, through the glass, to the patient’s eye. The glass is machined or processed such that the modified surface causes an apparent displacement of the reading material or other viewed objects.    





  • Helps improve the vision and quality of life of MD patients
  • Can be customized to the precise distortion levels of individual patients
  • Easy to implement using currently available instruments
  • Regular, easy-to-use diagnostics allow for devices and software to be regularly updated as disease progresses


  • MD Diagnostic Tests
  • Visual Aid Tools
  • Ophthalmic Devices
  • Macular degeneration treatment    


This technology is available for licensing. Patent Pending.

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Issued Patent 8,708,495 04/29/2014 2010-752
Patent Cooperation Treaty Published Application WO1149785 12/01/2011 2010-752


  • Klingshirn, James A.
  • Kohn, Walter

Other Information

Categorized As

Related cases



macular degeneration, Amsler grid, visual distorsion, visual aids


Meaghan A. Shaw / shaw@tia.ucsb.edu / tel: View Phone Number. Please reference Tech ID #21094.

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