A cylindrical lens is a lens which focuses light into a line instead of a point, as a spherical lens would. The curved face or faces of a cylindrical lens are sections of a cylinder, and focus the image passing through it into a line parallel to the intersection of the surface of the lens and a plane tangent to it. The lens compresses the image in the direction perpendicular to this line, and leaves it unaltered in the direction parallel to it (in the tangent plane). In a light sheet microscope, a cylindrical lens is placed in front of the illumination objective to create the light sheet used for imaging.
A toric lens combines the effect of a cylindrical lens with that of an ordinary spherical lens.