Despite the phenomenal leaps we are making every year in biological science and technology, the human eye is still irreplaceable. However, could corneal implants represent one future of vision correction by replacing reading glasses?
As you crest 40 years old, you become an easier target for presbyopia, the age-induced condition which causes your near vision to falter. Presbyopia is the reason so many of us require reading glasses, even when our general short range sight is still very sharp.
Corneal implants are an exciting new player in vision correction, and they might be just the thing for you!
Also referred to as corneal inlays, these are the latest attempt by optometry experts to make presbyopia manageable and less problematic. Unlike contact lenses which are placed on the outer layer of the cornea, inlays are much smaller lenses which are placed in the middle of the cornea- a layer called the stroma.
There are three different implants currently being used and developed:
Only 4mm diameter and less than a tenth of a human hair thick, this tiny inlay gained FDA approval a few years ago and is now commonly used to correct near and intermediate vision impairment. It is only implanted in the nondominant eye, allowing regular distance vision (for non-hyperopic patients) while sharply improving reading ability.
This device (only half the size of the Karma) gained FDA approval in June of this year following extensive testing and a very successful clinical trial. Its optical characteristics are almost identical to the human cornea. It is inserted into the eye following a laser incision to the outer cornea.
Similar to both of the other models in production, the Flexivue is also designed to be completely replaceable- young people who require corrections, but whose vision will change over their lifetime, can swap out their implant for a different strength when it becomes necessary. This implant is also fully reversible, so if a patient decides to use lenses or laser surgery instead, they can do so.
It can sound like a small thing, but the added convenience of never requiring to carry lenses with you to read a poster, book, mobile phone or even to see some family photos, is priceless. It’s also a huge stepping stone towards minimally invasive and reversible procedures to correct other vision impairments.
Sure, glasses and contacts are great (and they really are) but if our industry can start permanently correcting vision with smart, low-risk technology like inlays, then the future is very bright indeed.
Dr. Lampard graduated from optometry at Pacific University in Oregon in 1981. He and his wife Lorraine have three grown children, all born and raised in Red Deer. Tom enjoys cycling, curling, cross country and downhill skiing, and golfing. He also keeps busy volunteering for the United Way, has been a chairman of the Alberta College of Optometrists, and director of the Alberta Association of Optometrists.More Articles by Tom Lampard