An aspheric lens or asphere is a lens whose surface profiles are not portions of a sphere or cylinder. In photography, a lens assembly that includes an aspheric element is often called an aspherical lens.
The asphere's more complex surface profile can reduce or eliminate spherical aberration and also reduce other optical aberrations such as astigmatism, compared to a simple lens. A single aspheric lens can often replace a much more complex multi-lens system. The resulting device is smaller and lighter, and sometimes cheaper than the multi-lens design. Aspheric elements are used in the design of multi-element wide-angle and fast normal lenses to reduce aberrations. They are also used in combination with reflective elements (catadioptric systems) such as the aspherical Schmidt corrector plate used in the Schmidt cameras and the Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes. Small molded aspheres are often used for collimating diode lasers.
Aspheric lenses are also sometimes used for eyeglasses. Aspheric eyeglass lenses allow for crisper vision than standard "best form" lenses, mostly when looking in other directions than the lens optical center. Moreover, the reduction of the magnification effect of a lens may help with prescriptions that have different powers in the 2 eyes (anisometropia). Not related to the optical quality, they may give a thinner lens, and also distort the viewer's eyes less as seen by other people, producing better aesthetic appearance.