Electronic Autofocal Intraocular Lens (AF-IOL)

Elenza, a US medtech firm, has developed the world's first electronic Autofocal Intraocular Lens (AF-IOL). The "ELENZA Sapphire AutoFocal IOL" is designed to give patients a seamless visual range, providing effective near, intermediate and distance vision after a cataract operation. The technology is based on a diffractive lens element that is electrically activated by means of a liquid crystal. Accommodation is triggered by minute changes in pupil size. Helbling Technik collaborated with Elenza and other partners to develop the different technologies, which it integrated into a viable product design.

A cataract is an age-related clouding of the eye lens. Generally, the lens affected can be surgically replaced by an artificial implant. Cataract operations such as these are some of the world's most frequent surgical procedures. In most cases, monofocal or single-vision lenses are used, which only permit the patient to see sharp images at one distance while requiring a pair of glasses to see at other distances. Also available are multifocal lenses with two or more focal lengths, and even accommodated intraocular lenses that simulate the accommodative ability of natural lenses. Yet much like a camera's lens, these accommodating IOLs require mechanical movement. That, in turn, is linked to greater wear and tear, which then limits the IOL's service life. Against this backdrop, the question arises as to whether an accommodating IOL might also be possible without any mechanical movement. This is where the start-up Elenza had a vision, based on a product idea, a series of patents and a predefined selection of technologies. Elenza approached Helbling with the goal of developing a marketable product. Not just known for its high level of creativity and innovative strength, Helbling also has an extensive knowledge of systems engineering as well as a network of university and industrial partners. This puts Helbling in a position to promote technological innovations in a targeted manner to transform visions into feasible products. 

Key Figures

  • Miniaturized, highly integrated, independent implant (9 mm x 3 mm x 0.6 mm)
  • Sealed glass casing with several integral functions (electric contacts and feed-through, optical sensors, optical actuator)
  • Ultra-low-power electronic design
     Acrylic lens with refractive optics (40 SKUs)
  • Designed for large-scale series production

Our Contribution

  • Specifying product for development in an iterative process to customer concept

  • Identifying relevant technologies and appropriate partners to drive innovations

  • Developing technologies (incomparably small glass feedthrough, a biocompatible glass seal, durable electrical contacts, miniaturized communication and data links, and globally smallest biocompatible rechargeable battery)

  • Developing physiological algorithm to detect accommodation reflex. In just a few minutes the IOL learns a patient’s specific pupil dynamic through a self-learning algorithm using cutting edge methods


EyeWorld, the professional journal of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS), featured an article describing the highly innovative technology in an AF-IOL.


Dr. Niklaus Schneeberger

Stationsstrasse 12
3097 Liebefeld-Bern

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