As explained by the ’833 patent, the human eye is capable of “accommodation“: the ability to selectively focus on objects at various distances by deforming the lens of the eye via contraction of the ciliary muscle. However, treatment of patients suffering from cataracts often includes surgically removing the lens and replacing it with a plastic intraocular lens (“IOL”). While certain IOLs are designed to provide some measure of accommodation, they are certainly not as adept at it as is a natural lens. The ’833 patent describes an IOL that is intended be an improvement over existing systems. The IOL of the ’833 patent does this by estimating the distance to a object being viewed using a “rangefinder” based on the size of the pupil. By using a photodetector to measure changes in the incident light intensity and distribution, thereby determining the pupil size, and using an empirical relationship between the pupil size and ocular convergence (the rotation of the eyes in a direction towards one another), the IOL of the ’833 patent estimates the distance of the object being viewed. The IOL can then adjust its focus by applying an appropriate voltage to the electroactive material of the lens to change its refractive index.
According to its website, Elenza is “developing the world’s first electronic ‘AutoFocal’ Intraocular Lens” which uses “a proprietary combination of liquid-crystal chemistry, electricity, and integrated-circuitry to create smart optics, which will provide patients with the ability to see more naturally and clearly over the full range of vision.” Earlier this year, Elenza announced that it has completed a $24 million Series B round of financing for clinical development and commercialization of its “patented Electro-active AutoFocal Intraocular Lens.” According to a recent article, Elenza’s IOL is a year away from testing a prototype and two years from clinical trials in Europe.
According to the USPTO database, the ’833 patent is Elenza’s first U.S. patent.