New Laser May Eliminate Need For Reading Glasses in Older Adults

Weill Cornell Medical Center First In NYC-Area to Offer Treatment

Feb 14, 2003

New York, NY

Patients are Currently Being Enrolled For Study Early Results Promising

A new laser technology has shown promising early results for the reversal of presbyopia, a progressive stiffening of the eye's lens that occurs with aging and compromises an individual's near vision, or the ability to read without glasses. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical Center, first in the New York City-area to offer the new procedure, is currently seeking participants for a Phase II clinical trial of the innovative technology, called OptiVision.

Everyone over the age of 50 could potentially benefit from this new high-tech treatment, said Dr. Sandra Belmont, Principal Investigator of the new trial and Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology at Weill Cornell Medical College. The procedure, which takes only thirty minutes per eye, involves eight tiny laser incisions in the sclera, or the white of the eye. This allows the lens to expand, and enables the eye to focus at different distances. Within an hour, patients are able to read without glasses.

Eligible participants include healthy men and women between the ages of 50 and 65 years, who have difficulty reading without glasses, and have not previously undergone eye surgery. Fifty patients will be enrolled through the NewYork-Presbyterian Weill Cornell study, which is expected to be completed in two years. The study will involve regular monitoring of patient's vision.

Early results are promising; in one case, after one month, a patient with 20/70 vision now has 20/20 vision. Also, trials outside the U.S. have indicated almost no regression after surgery, with more than 80 percent of patients reading without glasses post-operatively.

Until now, the only available treatment for presbyopia was so-called monovision correction, achieved either by wearing contact lenses or undergoing LASIK surgery. (The most common laser vision treatment, LASIK, treats the cornea to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.) Monovision correction, which corrects one eye for distance and the other for close vision, may decrease depth perception in some patients.

Dr. Sandra Belmont is also Director of the Corneal Service and Associate Attending Ophthalmologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Weill Cornell.

OptiVision is manufactured by Surgilight, Inc., of Orlando, FL.