Adaptive Optics for the Human Eye

David R. Williams, University of Rochester

Wednesday, September 25 8:00-9:00 AM

Adaptive optics can extend not only the resolution of ground-based telescopes, but also the human eye. Both static and dynamic aberrations in the cornea and lens of the normal eye limit its optical quality. Though it is possible to correct defocus and astigmatism with spectacle lenses, higher order aberrations remain. These aberrations blur vision and prevent us from seeing at the fundamental limits set by the retina and brain. They also limit the resolution of cameras to image the living retina, cameras that are a critical for the diagnosis and treatment of retinal disease. I will describe an adaptive optics system that measures the wave aberration of the eye in real time and compensates for it with a deformable mirror, endowing the human eye with unprecedented optical quality. This instrument provides fresh insight into the ultimate limits on human visual acuity, reveals for the first time images of the retinal cone mosaic responsible for color vision, and points the way to contact lenses and laser surgical methods that could enhance vision beyond what is currently possible today. Supported by the NSF Science and Technology Center for Adaptive Optics, the National Eye Institute, and Bausch and Lomb, Inc.

Dave Williams - graduated from Denison University in 1975 with a B.S. in Psychology. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego in 1979 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill in 1980. He is currently William G. Allyn Professor of Medical Optics at the University of Rochester. Since 1991, Williams has served as Director of Rochester's Center for Visual Science, an interdisciplinary research program of 25 faculty interested in the mechanisms of human vision.

Williams' research marshals optical technology to address questions about the fundamental limits of spatial and color vision. He received the APA's Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Contribution to Psychology in 1986. He was awarded a National Eye Institute Research and Career Development Award in 1986 and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in 1997. He is a Fellow and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Optical Society of America. He received its Edgar G. Tillyer Award for outstanding research in visual science in 1998.

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