Optical modelling

Improving visual outcomes in cataract

Project reference number: HLSLTC003


Cataract is the most common condition, causing reduced vision in the elderly population. It is treated with surgical intervention using artificial lenses implanted in the eye following the removal of the cataract. The design of intraocular lenses for cataract surgery is rarely examined and the suitability of specific lenses for individual patients is never considered. An ever-increasing number of complex lens designs are being produced, and there is evidence that some lenses are producing poorer visual outcomes than others.

The research will use optical modelling (Zemax) to evaluate visual outcomes in cataract surgery using intraocular lens implants. The modelling will then be used to evaluate new intraocular lens designs and their suitability for individual patients. The possibility of tailoring lens design to the eyes of individual patients is something which has become possible with improvements in manufacturing processes. The research can potentially be widened to include areas such as refractive surgery, clear lens extraction and refractive correction using both contact lenses and spectacles.

There is a clear potential benefit of the research to many patient groups in improving visual outcomes in a wide range of ocular conditions. Manufacturers of optical devices and providers of refractive surgery now have the ability to produce tailored devices, however, there are no current optical modelling products which allow these devices to be tailored to individual patients. There is therefore considerable scope for commercialising this research. The ideal candidate for this project would be a graduate in physics or engineering, creating a strong cross-disciplinary focus between fundamental STEM areas and healthcare professionals.

Application deadline

The application deadline for October intake is 1st of July.

Research supervisors

Candidates are encouraged to contact the following researchers for further details:

Modes of study

This project is available as a:

  • PhD: 3 years full-time or 4.5 years part-time.


Applicants will normally hold a UK honours degree 2:1 (or equivalent); or a Masters degree in a subject relevant to the research project. Equivalent professional qualifications and any appropriate research experience may be considered. A minimum English language level of IELTS score of 6.5 (or equivalent) with no element below 6.0 is required. Some research disciplines may require higher levels.

Specific requirements of the project

The successful applicant will

  1. Have a 1st class honours in physics, engineering or other relevant disciplines.
  2. Have some experience of optical modelling, preferably using Zemax.