Adaptive Optics Market to grow at a CAGR of 99.4% by 2020 as there is a huge demand for The adaptive optics technology

Adaptive optics (AO) is a technology used to improve the performance of optical systems by reducing the effect of wave front distortions.

The adaptive optics technology is mostly used in laser communication systems and astronomical telescopes to reduce the effects of atmospheric distortion. In optical fabrications, retinal imaging systems and microscopy adaptive optics are used to remove optical aberrations. Adaptive optics works on the principle of measuring the distortions in wavefront and balancing the same with a device such as liquid crystal array or deformable mirror. Defense and retinal imaging are the two major applications of adaptive optics technology. Adaptive optics is also increasingly being adopted in emerging applications such as adaptive driver assistance systems (ADAS) in automobiles, mobile displays, machine vision, and near-eye displays.

Biomedical application expected to drive adaptive optics technology

Ophthalmology is the largest market for adaptive optics in the biomedical sector, given the applications of adaptive optics in retinal imaging, cornea assessment, vision correction, and so on. The adaptive optics technology has emerged as a major technology for providing cellular-level resolution of human retina. Cellular level imaging of human retina has made the early diagnosis of diseases possible for vision scientists and ophthalmologists. Apart from vision assessment applications, adaptive optics-based retinal imaging now has rapidly expanding clinical applications. In the near future, high-resolution retinal imaging would become increasingly important for advanced analysis of eye diseases and automated vision correction devices. Thus, ophthalmology is expected to continue to be one of the largest markets for biomedical adaptive optics during the forecast period.

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Digital retinal imagining to lead biomedical adaptive optics application

There is a growing public interest and awareness of the value of retinal examination. Adaptive optics imaging has revolutionized the way ophthalmologists see and analyze the retina, which has helped to clarify the understanding of the retinal structure. Adaptive optics has proved to be effective in improving the resolution of retinal images.

Digital retinal imaging uses high-resolution imaging systems to take pictures of the internal structure of the human eye. This technique is used by ophthalmologists to assess the health of the patient’s retina and to detect and manage eye- and health-related conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, diabetes, hypertension, and macular degeneration. The symptoms of certain diseases can be detected through the eyes of the patient. For instance, a dark black spot at the back of the eye may indicate melanoma, while disproportionate flow of liquid through the eyes may indicate glaucoma. Thus, effective analysis of the retinal structure can help doctors diagnose diseases at an early stage.

In digital retinal imaging, adaptive optics allows the direct visualization of individual rod and cone photoreceptor cells, RPE cells, and white blood cells to analyze the retina of the patient. An adaptive optics imaging system utilizes active optical elements to compensate for aberrations in the optical path between the object and the camera and provides clear images of the patient’s retina.

Popular digital retinal imaging techniques

Scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (SLO) marked a change in photographic capture technique; it utilizes the principle of illuminating only a small spot of the retina with collimated laser light directed through the very center of the pupil and capturing the reflections from its entire surrounding within the pupil. This has changes the optics of entrance and exit imaging and enabled the usage of much lower levels of light energy with better images.

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) added a new dimension to retinal imaging with the ability to develop cross-sectional images of retinal tissue to a submicron axial resolution and millimeter penetration using a low-coherence interference technique combined with a broadband light source.

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Drivers of the market

The growth of the adaptive optics market in ophthalmology is largely driven by technological advancements in ophthalmic imaging devices. In recent years, adaptive optics has been successfully integrated with primary ophthalmic imaging devices such as OCT, fundus camera, laser ophthalmoscope, and so on. Vision scientists and researchers have developed advanced ophthalmic medical devices based on adaptive optics technologies. Many companies are now providing wavefront sensors and deformable mirrors designed for vision assessment applications. As treatment paradigms for inherited retinal diseases evolve, adaptive optics systems are expected to play a major role in early diagnosis and monitoring therapies.

The overall adaptive optics market is expected to reach USD 7,666.4 million by 2020, growing at a CAGR of 99.4% between 2015 and 2020. The market for ophthalmology held a significant share of the overall market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 102.00% during the forecast period.

Key companies in the market

Adaptive Eyecare (U.S.) manufactures products specific to the adaptive eyewear market and is working with the University’s Centre for Vision in the Developing World to bring out cost-effective solutions for corrective vision. Adaptive Eyecare has designed eyewear using adaptive optics techniques to provide corrective vision; however, these are expensive. The company seeks to lower its product price without compromising on quality so that it can be affordable to the masses in need of corrective vision.

Another company engaged this market is VOPTICA (Spain) which has developed and commercialized AOnEye, a device which makes use of adaptive optics to provide corrective vision. Other companies operating in this market are QinetiQ, Thorlabs, Davin Optronics, Epigem, Michelson Diagnostics, and Opto PLC.