Eye Implants Can Give Patients 20/20 Vision

Meri had 30 pairs of reading glasses but could never find a pair when she needed them to read a recipe, read her phone or work on her computer. Now, thanks to a procedure called KAMRA Inlay, she is done with readers for good.

“Three years ago, I was in readers for everything,” says Meri, 50. “I needed them for my cell phone, all day at work on the computer, shopping and when dining out. They’re never where you need them. There’s a delay—you have to stop what you’re doing and find your glasses. Put them on. Take them off. You might do it 60 times a day.”

Meri estimates she spent at least 15 minutes a day looking for reading glasses.

So when she heard about the KAMRA Inlay procedure that restores near vision, she began doing her homework.

The FDA approved the procedure in 2015 after five years of study in the United States, says ophthalmologist Dr. Peyton Neatrour, of Beach Eye Care, the first practice in Virginia to offer KAMRA Inlay. In the last 10 years, more than 20,000 patients worldwide have had the implants, Neatrour says. Beach Eye Care began doing the procedure in October. Meri had the implant done in the first month.

Although patients get just one implant—in their non-dominant eye—the KAMRA Inlay is not mono-vision, Neatrour says.

“It gives you the full range of vision—distance, intermediate and near,” he says.

Near and intermediate vision should be 20/20–25 with distance vision at 20/20 to 20/40—good enough to drive day and night without glasses. The eye without the implant is just for distance.

“With the KAMRA Inlay, you can sit at your desk, look closely at papers, look at your computer at the intermediate distance and look at something out your window at a distance,” Neatrour says. “You can see all three of those.”

Patients should allow several months to see how much vision improvement they’ll get. Meri says she achieved 20/20 near, intermediate and distance in about two weeks.

Patients might want to save one pair of reading glasses. In dim light or when your eyes are tired, you may need the occasional readers. Meri has had to use reading glasses a few times at work when reading faded, fine print. But her 30 pairs of readers at home are stowed in a bag in a closet.

The implant itself is smaller than the pupil of your eye, 6 percent of the thickness of a piece of paper with a diameter of 3.6 millimeters, Neatrour says. It’s a quarter the size of a contact lens.

The procedure is FDA approved for ages 45 to 60, but the implant can be used outside that range, says Neatrour, who has done them for patients as young as 43 and as old as early 70s.

Before considering the surgery, Neatrour does extensive testing first to make sure the KAMRA Inlay is the right choice for each patient. For example, patients who already have a cataract aren’t good candidates. Patients with dry eyes aren’t necessarily excluded but need to have the dry eye issue under control first, he says. Once the patient is confirmed to be a good candidate for the KAMRA Inlay, Neatrour does extensive tests to determine exactly where in the eye the implant will be placed.

The procedure, which is not covered by insurance, costs about $3,800. It takes about 20 minutes, he says.

The procedure is also reversible. Less than one percent of patients may find after the implant is added that it’s not right for them. They can get it taken out, and their vision returns to what it was before surgery, Neatrour says.

Meri is thrilled. At 15 minutes a day since Nov. 1, she’s saved more than a full work week—45 hours—in time not looking for reading glasses.

“I never anticipated something like this was going to come out,” she says. “Whether I need to look something up on my phone, or my computer, now I don’t have to spend time looking for glasses. I just jump from one thing to the next without delay. It was a lifetime hassle eliminated in 20 minutes.”  

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