Presbyopia, sometimes called age-related farsightedness, is a common eye condition that affects millions of middle-aged people. Most people start to observe symptoms of this disease in their 40s or 50s.
In order to combat the symptoms of blurry vision, patients often buy pairs of reading glasses, bifocals, or choose to correct their vision with multifocal contact lenses. Although these treatment options can work pretty well, they are often very inconvenient for patients.
Luckily for presbyopia patients, there is a new surgical method promising to help re-shape the cornea in an amazing 10-minute procedure. Called a Raindrop Near Vision Inlay, this surgical procedure works by inserting a "Raindrop inlay," which looks just like a contact lens, into the eye.
Surgeons use a laser to cut a small flap in the cornea. After this is done, the surgeon carefully places a Raindrop inlay right over the patient's pupil and seals the flap once more. Over time, this inlay works to change the actual structure of the cornea and help presbyopia patients achieve clearer vision. Some patients report a dramatic improvement in vision only minutes after the surgical procedure.
How light passes through the cornea determines how well a person sees. As we age, the cornea often becomes more rigid and less flexible, which makes it increasingly difficult to clearly read or even see close-up objects.
Although this new Raindrop surgery has great promise, it's not full proof. Dr. Deepinder K. Dhaliwal, an ophthalmologist at the University of Pittsburg Medical Center, told reporters people interested in this surgery need to remember it's not "magic." While the Raindrop inlay surgery is a good option for many patients, it is still quite new and has a few risks associated with it.
In addition to checking overall eye health with post-surgical checkups, patients who undergo Raindrop inlay surgery must ensure their eyes are properly lubricated. Patients are often prescribed daily eye drops to take that naturally helps the cornea heal.
These Raindrop inlays were developed by a company called ReVision Optics Inc. This company has its main U.S. headquarters in Lake Forest, California.
Although many Americans haven't even heard of Raindrop inlays, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved this surgical procedure in the summer of 2016. The FDA actually tracked 373 presbyopia patients who decided to put in a Raindrop inlay. After two years, 92 percent of patients with implants gained 20/40 vision without glasses.
Not everyone with presbyopia is a right fit for Raindrop inlays. Indeed, every patient needs to be screened for eye diseases and dry eye before any surgeon can give the OK for surgery.
Before the actual surgical procedure, doctors can give interested patients a contact lens to wear that mimics what the Raindrop will do in a person's eye. After trying these contacts out, a patient can determine whether the Raindrop inlay is right for him/her.
Also, those interested in Raindrop inlays should know that there are a few possible side effects. These side effects include eye infection, dry eye symptoms, scarring, and corneal malformation. About 7 percent of people with Raindrop inlays have them removed due to hazy vision problems.