Scientists assembling NASA's $8 billion James Webb Space Telescope have fit the sophisticated observatory with an optical prescription so precise that it will allow the telescope to peer 100 times further into space than its predecessor, the Hubble Telescope.

Patients now have access to this same space-age technology, which was developed by Abbott scientists, by way of their ophthalmologist, who will be able to peer more precisely into their eyes to obtain more accurate, higher resolution measurements of their visual system. This is especially significant for people with less-than-perfect vision.

Astronomers have learned, specifically from the current Hubble Telescope, that even the slightest irregularity can distort an optic system (in this case, a collection of mirrors), which may then blur the ability to see into the distance. The same is true for our own vision. The surface of the human eye is not perfectly smooth. Being able to accurately map the imperfections of the eye becomes an important step when an ophthalmologist prepares to improve a patient’s vision.

Abbott’s iDesign Dx system employs a sophisticated wavefront measurement, similar to the laser technology used to examine the mirrors of the James Webb Space Telescope and ensure they exhibit optimal reflective capabilities. This gives doctors a new tool for looking at the human optic system at a microscopic level, giving them a clearer “blueprint” of their patient’s eyes.

Doctors can now use these precise measurements, delivered by the iDesign Dx system, to understand their patients’ complete visual imperfections or “refractive error.”  A separate version of the iDesign system, available in countries outside the United States, uses these measurements to devise a LASIK treatment specifically tailored to the patient's individual refractive error.