OPHTALMOLOGY ON THE VERGE OF A REVOLUTION
“Ophtalmology – small but phenomenal changes, on the verge of a revolution”.
Arthur Benjamin recently returned from the annual conference of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Chicago in a great mood. He’s usually in a great mood, regardless, but this time was different.
What is it, in a few words?
This new technology. In order to fully appreciate it, let’s recall the steps of our evolution. What has vision correction consisted of? If a patient sees poorly, a doctor has several methods for focusing the image on the retina. Monks came up with the easiest method about 400 years ago – glasses. Contact lenses appeared a few hundred years later. Germans, during WWII, invented a version that was rigid, uncomfortable, and messy. The technology didn’t stop there, though, and new materials were invented. They became more comfortable.
More oxygen was able to reach the cornea. But these rigid lenses were expensive and easy to lose. When baby boomers reached the “age of the contact lens”, progress had stopped. Somewhere in the 1970s, though, soft lenses were developed, and then disposable. Laser correction appeared after and then intraocular contact lenses, which were more comfortable. When it came to cataracts, they were able to replace the cloudy lens with an artificial one. Then came laser surgery. At this point, the evolution of the lens began. Toric (for astigmatism), multifocal, and multifocal with extended depth of focus, so the patient can see near and far.
OPHTHALMOLOGY ON THE MOVE
What does this current revolution consist of?
When a patient comes in and says, “Give me a better lens,” it’s clear what to do. Ophthalmology is on top of it. But what about the hundreds of millions that had operations 5-10 years ago, before these advanced lenses appeared? For example, a patient who’s had a monofocal put in comes to the office and says, “You know, doctor, it’s really my mistake – I agreed to a simple, spherical, monofocal lens, and the doctor that put it in has since retired. I can see things at a distance, but that’s it”. Or maybe it’s vice versa. Someone previously had a multifocal put in and they say, “I can see both near and far, but have really strong halos at night. Only 2% of people are supposed to get them, but why am I in that 2%?” What can be done for these people?
(to be continued)
Interview by V.A.