Published on 06/01/2022
•	Aston University and Rayner Intraocular Lenses Limited (Rayner)
  • Aston University and Rayner Intraocular Lenses Limited (Rayner) work together to develop new generation of intraocular lenses (IOLs) through Knowledge Transfer Partnership
  • Aston University's unique expertise assists delivery of mechanical lens stretching device and ex-vivo model that plays a central role in the long-term strategy of the company
  • Further benefits of KTP include increased profile of UK R&D and manufacturing in global growth areas of ophthalmology and Med Tech

Aston University partnered with the world’s first manufacturer of intraocular lenses (IOLs), Rayner Intraocular Lenses, to develop the next generation of lenses that give patients a high-quality full range of vision without the need to use spectacles.

The Worthing-based company, who also design and manufacture ophthalmic medical devices such as delivery systems and eye drops, used the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) to access the University’s unique sector-leading expertise and facilities. 

A KTP is a three-way collaboration between a business, an academic partner and a highly qualified graduate, called a KTP associate. The UK-wide programme helps businesses improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills. Aston University is the leading KTP provider within the Midlands.

The project went far beyond its initial scope and was assessed as outstanding by Innovate UK, the highest possible accolade. Key outcomes of the KTP have seen the development of a lens-stretching device that mechanically mimics the focusing mechanism of the human eye and the development of an artificial capsule module, required for testing and operating the new lens. The creation of the artificial module has removed the need to use human or porcine alternatives, which would require surgical preparation.

The lens-stretcher system required specialist knowledge to build algorithms to activate and control the movement characteristics of its motor, such as speed, acceleration and duration. The unique apparatus also required the design and manufacture of bespoke parts through 3D printing – both the automation and design capability formed knowledge that was new to the company at the beginning of this project.

Otavio Gomes, research programme manager, Rayner Intraocular Lenses said:

“The KTP programme is a great opportunity to join forces to explore challenging elements of science-driven developments.

"We could not be more satisfied with the whole experience with this KTP project and are proud of what we have achieved so far.”

Academics from Aston University’s College of Health and Life Sciences delivered this KTP. The team included Professor James Wolffsohn, a world-leading expert in ophthalmic research and Professor Leon Davies, a UK-registered optometrist and academic whose research in Physiological Optics has led to a better understanding of ocular accommodation (or eye focus) in the young and ageing eye.

Professor James Wolffsohn, Head of School of Optometry, Aston University said:

“This KTP programme has taken a long-running relationship between Rayner and Aston University and raised it to a new and exciting level of innovative collaboration.

"The KTP associate has flourished through the developmental opportunities and has been employed by the University to continue the collaboration.”

The KTP has led to the submission of two academic publications and the development of a unique intraocular lens testing rig. The project outcomes will also be integrated into Aston's curriculum, enabling future graduates to understand the cutting edge of future ophthalmic innovation.

Senior mechanical engineer and KTP associate Dr Huidong Wei was shortlisted for the Future Leader prize in the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) Best of the Best Awards. The judges noted Dr Huidong had demonstrated outstanding leadership skills above and beyond the extremely high expectations already in place for KTP associates.

Notes to Editors

This project is co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

Watch our short film to see how it works and visit our website for examples of KTP in action at Aston.

To find out more about how your business can benefit from working with Aston University, please email rke@aston.ac.uk or call 0121 204 4242

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Saskia Hansen is the interim Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.

Aston University was named University of the Year 2020 by The Guardian and the University’s full time MBA programme has been ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking. The Aston MBA has been ranked 12th in the UK and 85th in the world.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Rebecca Hume, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44)7557 745416 or email: r.hume@aston.ac.uk

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