Using Wavefront Tracing for the Visualization and Optimization of Progressive Lenses


Progressive addition lenses are a relatively new approach to compensate for defects of the human visual system.
While traditional spectacles use rotationally symmetric lenses, progressive lenses require the specification of freeform
surfaces. This poses difficult problems for the optimal design and its visual evaluation.
This paper presents two new techniques for the visualization of optical systems and the optimization of progressive
lenses. Both are based on the same wavefront tracing approach to accurately evaluate the refraction properties of
complex optical systems.
We use the results of wavefront tracing for continuously re-focusing the eye during rendering. Together with
distribution ray tracing, this yields high-quality images that accurately simulate the visual quality of an optical
system. The design of progressive lenses is difficult due to the trade-off between the desired properties of the
lens and unavoidable optical errors, such as astigmatism and distortions. We use wavefront tracing to derive an
accurate error functional describing the desired properties and the optical error across a lens. Minimizing this
error yields optimal free-form lens surfaces.
While the basic approach is much more general, in this paper, we describe its application to the particular problem
of designing and evaluating progressive lenses and demonstrate the benefits of the new approach with several
example images.