There has been a lot of talk recently about the “Bionic Lens” which has been invented by an optometrist from British Columbia. CBC news recently ran a story about the new lens implant. According to this news story, “Pending clinical trials on animals and then blind human eyes, the Bionic Lens could be available in Canada and elsewhere in about two years, depending on regulatory processes in various countries.” If there are problems in the back of the eye involving the retina, such as macular degeneration, this lens would not be able to correct the poor vision. So vision improvement using this lens would be helpful to people who can correct their vision with glasses or contact lenses. At this time vision correction surgeries are able to allow people to see as well without glasses or contact lenses as they do with their eyewear – for most people they would not be expected to see better than their best corrected vision.
The photographs of the lens looks similar to some of the designs currently available for intraocular lens implants used most frequently in cataract surgery. It is not clear from the news reports what makes this lens design so revolutionary. There do not appear to be reports yet in the peer reviewed literature which would fit with the reports that animal and blind human eye trials have not been done yet. These steps are needed to prove that the lens is safe before proceeding to sighted human eye studies. In people younger than 45 years old, lens replacement surgery is not usually recommended due to the fact that reading glasses may be required unless a multifocal lens is used or unless one eye is left near-sighted for reading (monovision).
The most common treatment for reducing dependence on glasses in this age range is laser vision correction. The original photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) techniques were developed in the 1980’s and have been refined over the following decades. This is still a reliable way to improve uncorrected vision in people who meet the safety criteria including thick enough corneas, prescriptions that are within the range of correction, healthy eyes, and no health problems that might cause problems in healing or risk of infection (such as immunosuppression). For people younger than 45 but with high corrections outside the range of laser vision correction the implantable contact lens is usually the next option.
Will the Ocumetrics Bionic Lens replace laser vision correction and standard lens implants used for cataract surgery? The reports are optimistic according to the news stories, but the proof will be coming in the next few years as preliminary studies and then sighted human eye studies are done. There is a lot of excitement about this new lens implant and if it lives up to expectations it is possible that it may become a common option for vision correction in the future. For now though, laser vision correction is the first option to consider as a way to reduce the need for glasses or contact lenses.
If you have questions about laser vision correction or wish to book a complimentary evaluation with Dr. Anderson Penno, contact Western Laser Eye Associates.