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Slew of New Lenses Act Like Real Eyes

Intraocular Lenses Are Allowing Patients to Put the Glasses Away
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Correcting Close-Up Vision

The latest use of the lens also is to correct presbyopia, when most individuals in their 50s start requiring reading glasses for close-up vision, he said.

However, he warned that not all cataract patients are good candidates for these intraocular lenses and that the out-of-pocket costs to a patient aren't small.

Eyeonics now offers what the company refers to as its Crystalens; it's an accommodating lens where there isn't a division of light, as in the multifocal lens.

Howard Fine, MD, of Oregon Eye Associates, said the accommodating lens offers a better quality of vision than most lenses after surgery to remove cataracts. The lens is designed to mimic the healthy eye's natural process of accommodation, focusing on objects nearby and at a distance as needed.

Studies haves shown that 71% of patients receiving this type of lens have 20/20 vision at near range without glasses, he said, adding that 96% end up with at least 20/30 vision at distance.

Improving Intermediate Vision

The patients can see multiple distances and 73% are spectacle independent, Fine said. Additionally, 98% of patients had good intermediate vision, "something you can't underestimate in this age of computers."

The Crystalens sits in the back of the eye and is placed with an injector into the eye through a small incision, he said. "It is especially good for taller individuals, who are further away from their reading material."

Another type of lens that is increasing in popularity is called the phakic intraocular lens, an implantable contact lens that can be placed in the eye without removing the natural lens of the eye, Vukich said.

Correcting Myopia

The FDA has approved these lenses for the correction of nearsightedness (myopia). Nearsighted people can see near objects well, but far away objects are blurry. With these types of lenses "virtually all of patients" can see uncorrected with glasses, Vukich said. "This is what is driving the market."

There is expected to be a big growth in the use of these types of lenses with estimated projections of 100,000 implanted by 2009, Vukich said.

And there are more improvements on the horizon, said Fine.

In the pipeline are new lenses with duo opticals that have two flexible lenses, new lenses to take away the edge effect, light-adjustable lenses, and fluid-based lenses that with a tilt of a head result in fluid moving within the lens to increase the power, he said.

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