New implantable lenses put high-tech devices within reach, UT Southwestern eye surgeons say

Dr. James McCulley
Dr. James McCulley

DALLAS — March 3, 2009 — If you’re having trouble reading or sending text messages on your new cell phone, UT Southwestern Medical Center eye surgeons may have a remedy.

Intraocular lenses, the next generation of implantable lenses, are designed to correct cataracts and presbyopia, the blurry eyesight that commonly occurs around age 40. They focus on improving middle and near distances, which include viewing reading materials on computer screens, reading print materials and viewing text-enabled cell phones.

IOLs or permanent lenses have become an increasingly popular solution for people with presbyopia with or without cataracts who want to permanently rid themselves of glasses. Implantable lenses can correct vision at near, middle and far distances by replacing the eye’s natural or damaged lens.

A new generation of ReSTOR lenses now available offers better clarity for many high-tech gadgetry demands, with tweaks to near vision, which is  increasingly used for viewing data on cell phones and PDAs, and intermediate vision, used for computer screens or GPS devices, explained Dr. James McCulley, chairman of ophthalmology at UT Southwestern.

“A person is four times as likely to have 20/20 distant, intermediate and near vision with this new lens as with the previous lens. Previously, that 20/20 equivalence often was not attained in the intermediate distance,” said Dr. McCulley, who directs the Jean H. & John T. Walter Jr. Center for Research in Age-Related Macular Degeneration.

“The near power is now a little bit farther away, which puts it in the more typical normal reading distance, and the intermediate distance vision, which would be a computer screen, grocery store shelf, GPS or the dashboard on a motor vehicle is significantly improved,” Dr. McCulley noted.

The new RESTOR lens’s design gathers and spreads light in a unique way, using an outer edge to focus distant images, the thicker center to focus on nearer objects and layered surfaces that help with the in-between distances.

“The remarkable thing with it is that by moving the images in effect closer together, it did not increase any problems with overlap of images,” Dr. McCulley said.

Aging causes the eye’s natural lens to become more opaque, scattering light and clouding vision. More than half of Americans 65 and older have cataracts, which can be hastened by diabetes, smoking, poor nutrition and other factors.

Eye surgeons can correct the cataract problem and presbyopia simultaneously by removing the clouded lens and replacing it with a multifocal artificial IOL lens. Younger patients with presbyopia, in which near vision becomes blurry,  also may eliminate the need for glasses with a multifocal IOL, a procedure called refractive lens exchange that is typically not covered by insurance.

“Our commitment to patients who want this done is to get them as close to glasses-free as technology allows, and this latest lens gets us that much closer,” Dr. McCulley said. “We are gaining on the long-term goal to completely eliminate the need for glasses.”

In clinical studies, 80 percent of patients with the AcrySof ReSTOR lenses reported never wearing glasses after cataract surgery in both eyes, compared to only 10 percent of those with monofocal lenses, which was the highest level of freedom from glasses ever demonstrated in an IOL clinical trial, according to Fort-Worth based Alcon, which makes the lenses. Even people who do still need glasses with the ReSTOR lens need them less often. Potential side effects of IOLs may include visual aberrations like halos or diminished night vision.

UT Southwestern ophthalmologists hold free seminars at 6 p.m. every Tuesday about LASIK and refractive intraocular lenses at the UT Southwestern Laser Center for Vision Care, 1801 Inwood Road. To sign up, call 888-663-2020 or 214-645-2027 or e-mail laservision@utsouthwestern.edu.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/eyes to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in ophthalmology.

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Media Contact: Russell Rian
214-648-3404
russell.rian@utsouthwestern.edu

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