- Procedure would help an ageing patient’s ability to focus on close up objects
- Implant would combat long-sightedness which is common in over 40s
- Would replace laser surgery – which can leave patients still needing glasses
- Procedure costs £2,495 and is currently not available on the NHS
Scientists have developed a new technique that could see reading glasses banished forever.
The operation involves placing a tiny implant – known as a ‘Raindrop’ inlay – underneath the cornea in a bid to reverse vision problems associated with ageing.
It is hoped the painless procedure will combat a condition known as presbyopia, which diminishes our ability to focus on close-up objects as we get older.
It is common among the over 40s and is one of the main reasons we are forced to buy reading glasses.
The technique was pioneered in America, but has made its way across the Atlantic and is now being used at Space Healthcare in Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. Share
It could replace laser surgery, which until now has been deemed the only long-term treatment, even though it leaves some recipients requiring reading glasses in dim light.
The new technique could replace laser eye surgery – which can leave some patients still needing glasses
The procedure also takes just 10 minutes, whereas laser surgery can last for up to an hour.
Anaesthetic droplets are inserted into the patient’s eye so they remain conscious throughout as the implant is placed under a flap of the cornea, the clear part of the eye.
It corrects near medium vision by changing the shape of the cornea, with the central section becoming steeper.
Lynda Marenghi, 57, a school bursar from Staffordshire, was the first person in Britain to undergo the procedure.
She told The Sunday Telegraph: ‘It was driving me mad, having to hold books further and further away from me and squinting to try to read them.’
‘It felt like my arms were too short and I was diagnosed with presbyopia – losing my near sight.
‘It’s an age-related thing and meant I had to wear glasses more and more which was awful because, being a school bursar, I have to deal with a lot of close work and spreadsheets on computers.
The procedure costs £2,495 and is not currently available on the NHS.
Mark Wevill, an opthalmic surgeon who has completed the surgery on a handful of patients, told the paper: ‘Raindrop can’t stop eyes from ageing. But it can help deterioration in eyesight caused by the ageing process.
The new procedure offers hope to the 32million spectacle wearers in the UK and could reduce the £2.7billion a year spent on optical products – including contact lenses.