A flexible lens that’s surgically implanted in the eye could replace glasses for millions of individuals who find reading at short distances problematic.
The Kamra Inlay - which has previously only been available as an experimental procedure - is currently available privately in the UK as a fifteen-minute surgery that costs £5,000 for both eyes.
The device is actually a thin disc with a tiny opening in its centre that works like a pinhole camera, blocking the amount of peripheral light that enters the eye and so focusing the wearer’s vision.
A study into the implant’s effectiveness found that 83 per cent of patients aged 40 to 60 were able to read a newspaper without glasses after undergoing the necessary surgery, and were able to read an average of three more lines on a reading chart.
The inlay is inserted into the patient’s eye by slicing opening the cornea – the transparent front of the eye – with a laser. Similar, rival products including the Raindrop implant, are currently undergoing medical trials before they become widely available.
“Corneal inlays represent a great opportunity to improve vision with a safety net of removability,” said Dr John Vukich, a professor in ophthalmology and vision sciences at the University of Wisconsin and a lead author on the study.
“This is a solution that truly delivers near vision that transitions smoothly to far distance vision,” said Dr Vukich, adding that the procedure would eliminate the need for multiple pairs of glasses for reading, driving and other activities.
In Britain some 23 million people suffer from presbyopia – the hardening of the eye’s lens that comes naturally with age and reduces the ability to focus on close objects.
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