Symfony: A New Revolution in Ophthalmology
As soon as I read in the news that we are starting to explore Tecnis’ new artificial lens, which provides high-quality vision near and far, with high contrast even in low light, I called the Benjamin Eye Institute immediately, forgetting that it was a Sunday. Nevertheless, Arthur Benjamin called me right back. I wasn’t disappointed: he was not only aware of this, but once again a pioneer.
What is the attraction of this new lens, if the previous one so nearly reached perfection? What are the pros and cons of Symfony lens?
It was not perfect, and the new lenses are a truly revolutionary solution. The typical multi-focal artificial lens allows good far-sighted vision (mountains, behind the wheel, and television) as well as near-sighted vision (newspaper or smartphone), but it isn’t so good for mid-distances, like in conversation, shopping, using a computer, or reading the speedometer or GPS. In addition, there are problems with “halos”, reflections, glare, “spray”, loss of contrast perception, and a partial loss of light. I would like for the transitions between those distances to be smooth and without these losses. For reasons that are too much to explain here, typical multi focal lenses (which at the time were atypical) lose about 20% of light, and in the case of astigmatism correction the result strongly depends on corneal procedures. People often complained that they could see everything, but there wasn’t enough light. There was no lens that could solve all these problems, and it was always a compromise until now. Now that lens exists.
I read that these new lenses may have only a small halo effect, like that of a mono-focal. Is this new lens superior to both the old mono-focal and multi-focal products?
Yes, in this narrow sense the new lens is as good as the mono-focal, but likely even better. They finally learned how to make complex diffractive lenses with precise resolution, and the truth is that making them was extremely difficult. If you are creating them for a huge telescope, it is understood that this will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, the same of which is true of these tiny lenses on an industrial scale.
You said “they”, so who are they? Are they domestic?
Yes, they’re an American group called Abbott Medical Optics, but let’s go back to the benefits of these new lenses. One of their main attractions, other than mid-distance vision, is the high contrast. Tecnis lenses have demonstrated contrast in very low light.
Could you explain this contrast?
Anyone can see black letters on a white background, but try reading grey letters on a grayish-yellow page. The contrast between the letters and paper will be minimal, so it can blur together. The modified, elongated form of these new lenses can compensate for the spherical aberration of the cornea.
Studies show that a reduction in spherical aberration of intraocular lenses, as applied in Tecnis‘ advanced technology, improves driver safety. It may not be clear why, to the layman, but the implications are serious. What will this new discovery do for your patients?
It’s already been used and proven effective for the last five years in Europe, and that’s because there are less stringent regulations there. For this reason, our products at times catch on faster there than they do here. It’s even faster than that in Latin America, because they don’t share the same ethical requirements or controls.
It’s clear that such a lag will have its pros and cons, but the primary advantage for our countrymen is that it has already been tested in other countries. Are the procedures in surgical planning different than before?
We always say that it’s not just this or that new product; it’s also the surgeon. In theory, anyone could buy almost any lens and have it inserted by any doctor. However, it doesn’t always turn out the way we’d like. The doctor also needs first-class equipment. Even if the operation is done correctly, but accurate measurements were not taken, the patient will not be pleased with the results. Speaking of this new lens, I should add that they’re toric (as well as spherical), which allows physicians to treat patients with astigmatism non-surgically. Thanks to its elongated focus – from far to very close – the problem of mid-distance vision is brilliantly solved. Mountains, the sky, television, traffic signs, addresses and telephone numbers… all of these can be seen clearly.
It seems that we will soon be like the Terminator, whose vision exceeds that of an ordinary human. That said, surely these lenses have started a furor, no?
(to be continued)
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