Chinese Annals of Mathematics, Series B

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 647–660 | Cite as

The mathematical theory of multifocal lenses



This paper presents the fundamental optical concepts of designing multifocal ophthalmic lenses and the mathematical methods associated with them. In particular, it is shown that the design methodology is heavily based on differential geometric ideas such as Willmore surfaces. A key role is played by Hamilton’s eikonal functions. It is shown that these functions capture all the information on the local blur and distortion created by the lenses. Along the way, formulas for computing the eikonal functions are derived. Finally, the author lists a few intriguing mathematical problems and novel concepts in optics as future projects.


Optical design Differential geometry Eikonal functions Multifocal lenses 

2000 MR Subject Classification

35J30 35J50 78A05 


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This paper is dedicated to Professor Haim Brezis for his 70th birthday. The author thanks his collaborators GershonWolansky, Dan Katzman and Sergio Barbero. He is pleased that Haim himself is using multifocal lenses that were designed using the principles explained above.


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Copyright information

© Fudan University and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MathematicsTechnionHaifaIsrael

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