Bionic Lens Implant Improves Vision beyond 20/20
A new technology has taken the stage in optometry: the Ocumetics Bionic Lens. It is said to provide patients with 3x 20/20 vision, regardless of age.
During an eight-minute in-office procedure, very similar to cataract surgery, a 2.7mm incision is made to remove the patient’s lens. The tiny, folded lens is inserted via a syringe filled with saline. The lens then unfolds and moves into place over the eye’s natural lens. Vision is instantly corrected.
It is made of inert biocompatible polymeric material and boasts camera-like optics capable of shifting focus from far distances to very close range quicker than the human brain can perceive.
The bionic lens implant is superior to Lasik and current laser vision procedures. Lasik only corrects to 20/20 vision. Patients with the bionic lens implant are no longer at risk of developing cataracts, as the implant replaces the natural lens in the eye. Additionally, patients will not experience problems with glare or the need for nighttime driving glasses commonly associated with laser vision surgery.
The intraocular lens technology could be available to patients as early as 2017, pending patents and additional clinical trials. It will only be available to those over the age of 25 when the eye structures are fully developed. The procedure is expected to cost around $3,200 per eye, according to Ocumetics, and will only be available at select medical facilities initially.
Ocumetics’ bionic lens implant is the result of investing eight years of research and $3 million in funding. Optometrist Dr. Garth Webb, CEO and founder of Ocumetics Technology Corp, has dedicated his life to eliminating his biggest pet peeve: his personal need for glasses and contacts.
“Perfect eyesight should be a human right,” Webb says.
Holding true to this belief, he established Celebration of Sight, a not-for-profit dedicated to providing life-changing eye surgery in developing countries. Recently a blind woman was blessed with vision after being implanted with a bionic eye.
Woman Sees First Time In Six Years Due To Bionic Eye
A 49-year-old mother of two who has lived with the inherited retinitis pigmentosa condition since she was five was recently outfitted with a “bionic eye”.
This bionic eye allowed Rhian Lewis to tell time for the first time in over six years.
Her sight is due to the ongoing trial happening at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. Hospital surgeons implanted a small electronic chip behind Lewis’ right eye retina, allowing her the chance to see.
Retinitis pigmentosa will cause the light-detecting cells photoreceptors to gradually deteriorate. And, over time, causes blindness. One in 3,400 people living in the UK suffer with the disease, which does not have a cure at this time.
Lewis is unable to see out of her right eye and practically can’t see in her left eye. Retina Implant AG, a German firm, implanted the bionic eye last June during a six-to-eight hour operation.
In follow-up tests, Lewis would look at a large cardboard clock to learn if she could actually see the time. It’s been more than 15 years that she could see the time in her right eye and six years with her left. Lewis was excited to realize it was three o’clock, saying it was just like Christmas Day.
The implant is a 3mm sq array of about 1,500 light sensors that sends nerve cells electrical signals. The implant communicates with a small computer that lies behind the ear and under the skin. A magnetic coil, which looks like a hearing aid, is put on the skin.
When the bionic eye is turned on, patients will get flashes of light. However, after several weeks, the brain will convert the flashes to objects and shapes – although they are still grainy, and black and white.
Lewis said researchers told her that she may not have any sensation, but when she did, she got teary-eyed and excited. Lewis said not being able to see makes one lose confidence in themselves – they can’t do the simple things like grocery shopping, clothes shopping, etc. – due to the loss in mobility.
She said it’s been about eight years since she knew what her children looked like. She said being able to see makes her excited.
Retinitis pigmetosa has been treated with the bionic eye since 2012. However, Lewis was the first person outside of Germany to be given the latest generation device.
Prof. Robert MacLaren, who led the Oxford research, said the bionic eye technology can be extremely beneficial. He said people like Lewis are doing is reactivating the brain that hasn’t worked right in the last 10 years. MacLaren said there’s an array of rehabilitation that needs to be done because these folks are trying to see once more.