Researchers from Columbia University and Texas A&M are hard at work on a safe, non-surgical procedure that could cure nearsightedness. Although still in its early phases of development, scientists are hopeful this new therapy could help correct the vision of millions of myopic patients.
In this study, investigators used a femtosecond oscillator laser to change the structure of the cornea. The type of laser in this device is very fast and has a high repetition rate, but it also uses less energy than standard laser devices.
According to the study authors, this type of laser surgery is less invasive than the standard refractive surgery. In their tests, researchers couldn’t find any potential side effects from using this technique.
As the next step in their research, scientists are now working on a prototype of this device to use in a clinical trial. Within the next few months, doctors hope to test their femtosecond oscillator on myopic patients.
In addition to the femtosecond oscillator project, a few investigators are developing technologies that could be used to better diagnose different corneal patterns. This diagnostic technology could dramatically help doctors personalize corneal care.
Only 50 years ago, about 15 percent of East Asian children wore glasses for myopia. Believe it or not, today well over 80 percent of 20-year-olds in East Asia wear contacts or glasses for nearsightedness. Amazingly, recent data suggests almost 100 percent of young adults in Seoul, South Korea are nearsighted.
A few of the major factors contributing to the myopia boom include a lack of sunlight exposure, nutrient-deficient diets, and staring too long at computer screens. Optometrists recommend parents limit their child’s exposure to digital screens and bring him/her in for a visual check-up as soon as possible.
Dr. Chao Wang, who teaches at Columbia University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, was the lead author on this study. The other major researchers involved in this project include Drs. Mikhail Fomovsky, Guanxiong Miao, Mariya Zyablitskaya, and Sinisa Vukelic.
Anyone interested in this research should pick up the latest copy of Nature Photonics. Study authors entitled their study, “Femtosecond laser crosslinking of the cornea for non-invasive vision correction.”