The James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in 2018 will have amazing sight with 18 mirror segments. To polish the telescope’s mirror segments, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center contracted with L3 Communications’ Tinsley Facility in Richmond, California. WaveFront Sciences of Albuquerque, a subcontractor to L3 at the time, developed a system for testing the large mirrors after grinding.
This test called the infrared Scanning Shack Hartmann System has allowed improvements in the machines for testing human eyes for Lasik surgery. Dan Neal, cofounder of WaveFront Sciences, said that “We were trying to solve one problem for JWST, and the tool we developed turned out to have many applications. The techniques for JWST needed to be able to measure a wide variation of shapes, and those are the same techniques we’ve used in designing instruments to measure the eye.
WaveFront Sciences spunoff the James Webb Space Telescope technology into the Complete Ophthalmic Analysis System (COAS). COAS was designed for diagnosing eye conditions and providing a detailed map of the eye and supports research in cataracts, keratoconus, and eye movement. Then when WaveFront Sciences was acquired by Abbott Medical Optics, COAS was adapted into a new product called the iDesign Advanced WaveScan Studio. iDesign Advanced WaveScan Studio is used by doctors to measure a patient’s eye in just three seconds and then create a map of the Lasik treatment needed for correction.
Learn more about how the James Webb Space Telescope technology has been used to improve eye surgery here.