Has Reading Become a Blur? Now There is a “Quick Fix”
Squinting while texting, always losing your reading glasses?
An eye implant that takes about 10 mins to put in place is the newest in a list of surgical repairs for the blurry close-up vision that is a bane of middle age.
Who is really a good candidate to toss their specs?
“It’s not bringing anybody back to being 20 again,” cautioned Dr. Shilpa Rose, a ophthalmologist who tests whether patients’ eyes are healthy enough to qualify. “But it decreases the need to rush to get that pair of reading glasses every time you want to send a text or read an e-mail.”
Nearly everybody will experience presbyopia at some point, usually starting in the mid-40s. At 1st you may notice yourself holding restaurant menus at arm’s length. Eventually, even in good light, reading becomes a blur.
How well you see has to do with how light is directed through the natural lens to the back of the eye. That lens stiffens with age, losing its ability to shift and bend light so that it becomes more difficult to focus close-up.
The usual options are magnifying drugstore reading glasses or, for people with other vision problems, bi-focals, multi-focal contact lenses or mono-vision, meaning correcting for distance vision in one eye and near vision in the other.
And while surgery always carries some risk, corneal inlays that are implanted into the eye’s clear front surface are getting attention because they are removable if necessary.
“It is not magic, it is surgery. People have to remember this is not one and done,” but requires post-surgical exams and care, said Dr. Deepinder K. Dhaliwal of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, a corneal specialist who is watching studies of the inlays.
Dr. Krupinsky was a little nervous while lying on the operating table to receive the new Raindrop near vision inlay.
A gel-like device that looks like a miniature contact lens, the Raindrop is smaller than the eye of a needle. It’s the 1st implant to treat presbyopia by changing the cornea’s shape, making it steeper to alter how light passes through.
It’s placed in only 1 eye; both eyes still see at a distance.
Patients can test-wear a single contact lens to be sure they will like the effect before choosing surgery.
Dr. Rose, the ophthalmologist, checked for dry eye, underlying diseases like glaucoma, and whether the corneas were thick and healthy enough to implant before recommending surgery.
Maker ReVision Optics Inc. is gradually training eye surgeons to use the Raindrop properly, after the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved it last Summer based on a study of 373 people whose only vision problem was moderate presbyopia, now 2 years later, 92% had good near vision, 20/40 or better without glasses, in the implanted eye.
Potential side effects include infection, dry eye, glare, or corneal problems such as scarring. About 7% of study participants had the implant removed, mostly because they weren’t satisfied with their vision or experienced a haze or clouding of the cornea. Most returned to their pre-surgical vision, although one had lingering haze.
Other surgical options, include the following;
- Another FDA-approved corneal inlay, the Kamra, is a doughnut-shaped device, also used in 1 eye and removable. It works like a pinhole camera, improving vision by focusing light through the center of the pupil.
- A more invasive operation replaces the natural lens in each eye with an artificial one, named Symfony, that can focus both near and far. Approved for cataract surgery, it also is being offered as a presbyopia fix for the middle-aged who don’t yet have cataracts. Unlike inlays, artificial lenses cannot simply be removed.
Insurance does not cover elective presbyopia surgery. Dr. Rose said the inlays average about $4,000 to $5,000, while the artificial lens in both eyes can cost 2X as much.
Patients should consult a surgeon experienced with all the options who can determine which best suits their eyes, advised Dr. Dhaliwal.
Each has pros, cons and unknowns.
For example, elective lens replacement is not for the very nearsighted because they’re at higher risk for a vision-threatening complication, Dr. Dhaliwal said.
And the Raindrop has not been studied in people who years ago underwent LASIK surgery to correct nearsightedness.
Experts advise such patients to pick a surgeon experienced in both procedures.