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As you near middle age, you may begin to experience difficulty with reading books, ingredient labels, mobile devices, and other items that feature small print. This type of vision impairment is known as presbyopia, and is commonly diagnosed in Americans between the ages of 40 and 50. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, one in every five Americans wears reading glasses, but now, a new implantable device could correct presbyopia and soon make reading glasses obsolete.

The new implantable devices are known as corneal inlays, which are currently being evaluated by the FDA for safety and efficacy. During corneal implant surgery, a small incision is made into the cornea at the front of the eye, and an inlay is inserted into the incision. The procedure only takes between 10 and 15 minutes, but ophthalmologists warn that corneal implants may be associated with side effects and possible complications that include reduced night vision, haziness, and dry eye syndrome.

At present, the FDA is reviewing three different types of corneal inlays, including the Presbylens Flexivue Microlens, the Raindrop Near Vision, and the Kamra inlay. The Presbylens Flexivue Microlens results in an effect similar to multifocal glasses, and features different levels of magnifying power so eyes can focus on objects both far away and up close. The Raindrop Near Vision inlay reshapes the cornea and is made of hydrogel — which is a soft material commonly used in the manufacturing of contact lenses. Lastly, the Kamra inlay constricts the field of vision in a manner that creates better sight at close range.

According to John Vukich, MD, a professor in ophthalmology and vision sciences at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, corneal inlays have been in development for several decades, and could be an ideal alternative to reading glasses thanks to advancements in medical technology. On the other hand, while corneal inlays could be the reading glasses of the future, American Academy of Ophthalmology spokesperson Anne Sumers, MD says that such implants could be associated with unforeseen complications.

Until corneal implant devices have been officially approved for use by the FDA, patients are recommended to continue working with their eye doctors to maintain and improve their presbyopia vision impairment using reading glasses.

Are you experiencing problems with reading, or suffer from presbyopia? Silverstein Eye Centers can help treat problems with vision impairment. Call Silverstein Eye Centers today to make an appointment for an eye exam.

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