INTERVIEW WITH ARTHUR BENJAMIN: A Symfony for your eyes (part 2)
So what is this revolutionary technology, again?
Regular multifocal lenses are diffractive. Loosely speaking, 40% of the light is for viewing far objects, 40% is for near, and 20% is lost along with contrast. Conventional multifocal lenses are actually bifocal, because they are good both near and far but are problematic with mid-distances – the computer screen, automobile dash, etc. In order to see these things, you have to move closer or farther away, wear glasses, or just not see it at all. Plus, there are side effects like halos, light rays, or glare. Symfony is almost completely devoid of these things because it isn’t a diffractive lens. While conventional lenses lose 20% of light, Symfony loses only 3%. Therefore, there aren’t halos or glare around light sources. People with conventional lenses cannot drive at night; the pupil expands, so each point of light transforms into a circle and fills the eye with rays. Although you’ve paid for the operation, now you can’t deliver pizzas, drive a truck, or go out to eat at night. These new multifocal lenses are even less problematic than the original monofocal.
So the main advantage of Symfony lenses is that they aren’t diffractive?
They have an echelette formation that elongates the focus area rather than splitting the light. The new technology extends and deepens focus. After the operation, a patient can look at a wall chart and see 20/20. They can slowly approach the chart and still see 20/20, all the way until their nose touches the wall. They can see the letters perfectly. It’s perfect vision with smooth transitions.
In other words, their vision is normal and natural?
Yes, and without loss of light or image quality. It is the same technological system used in telescopes and microscopes.
Have you implanted a lot of these lenses during this first month?
Ten or so. People are really excited, and that makes me happy.
But no one, on the other hand, has had these lenses for very long. What will happen to them in 20 or 30 years?
No one knows what will happen in 30 years, because factors include both the patient and doctor. I believe by that time if something goes wrong, we will have the tools to fix it. Another point worth mentioning is that conventional lenses have a spherical shape. In order to implant this lens into a patient with astigmatism, a multi-tiered operation is required. First you install the lens, and then Lasik is used to correct the astigmatism. This is a 1-2 month process. The lens has to heal, so the patient wears protective glasses, and the whole thing is stressful. Everything with Symfony is done immediately.
That’s because the lens is elongated or oval?
They’re toric – not just multifocal, but also toric.
I’m not good at geometry. Can you explain?
It’s not so much like a watermelon or door handles as much as a spoon. Maybe that image is helpful, but those are all technical details. What is important is that people can see how beautiful the world is, and sometimes for the first time in their life.
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Interview: S. Varo
Photos: S. Varo