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Healthy Life: Rid of those Reading Glasses?

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ABOUT PRESBYOPIA: Presbyopia is a vision condition in which the crystalline lens of the eye loses flexibility. This makes it difficult to focus on near objects. The effects of presbyopia normally take place over a number of years and become noticeable in the early to mid-40s. Since the condition is a normal part of the aging process, it cannot be prevented, according to the American Optometric Association. Signs of presbyopia include blurred vision at normal reading distance, and eye fatigue and headaches when doing close work.
TREATMENT: To help correct the effects of presbyopia, an optometrist may prescribe reading glasses, bifocals, trifocals or contact lenses. Changes in eyewear will probably be necessary since the effects of presbyopia continue to change the ability of the crystalline lens to focus. Another option is corneal implants. Though no such treatments have been approved by the FDA for use in the United States, a number of companies are conducting clinical trials to evaluate implants and inlays.
CORNEAL IMPLANTS: Corneal implants are tiny lenses or other devices inserted into the cornea to bend light and correct vision problems. There are clinical trials underway testing corneal implants designed to compensate for vision loss caused by presbyopia. Procedures to place corneal implants don't require the removal of tissue as do other vision correction procedures.
The new corneal inlay called AcuFocus is being tested for the correction of presbyopia in adults. The implant is a piece of black polymer under 4 mm in diameter with a small opening in the center. The opening in the implant increases the eye's depth of focus and theoretically can improve near vision to a degree equivalent to a moderately strong bifocal lens. To implant the lens, a surgeon places the inlay within the cornea and centers it over the non-dominant pupil. The surgery takes about 15 minutes and can be performed in an eye surgeon's office. Recovery time depends on a patient's healing patterns; some see improvement within 48 hours and some within a few months. In an ongoing European trial, 57 patients who underwent the procedure to implant the AcuFocus lens attained the equivalent of 20/20 near vision without reading glasses after 12 months and also achieved a mean uncorrected distance vision of 20/20 in the treated eye. The most common reported effects of the implant are dry eye, glare and halos.

Thomas S. Tooma, MD
TLC Laser Eye Centers
Newport Beach, CA
(949) 854-7400