Are implantable lenses safer than laser surgery?

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  • Fixing artificial lenses into the eyes could replace laser surgery, say experts...

    Implantable plastic lenses could be a safer alternative to laser surgery for moderately short-sighted people, according to a new scientific review.

    Myopia or short-sightedness is a condition where the eye focuses images in front of the retina instead of directly on it. This means objects further away appear blurred. Around one in four people are short-sighted.

    Laser surgery is the standard procedure for short-sighted people who don’t want to depend on glasses or contact lenses. It strips off cells from the cornea, the clear tissue covering the eye, thereby flattening it and allowing visual input to come into focus on the retina.

    In extremely short-sighted people, however, laser surgery isn’t practical because too much tissue would have to be removed. So doctors may choose to insert plastic lenses in front of the eye’s natural lens instead.

    The new report, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, shows that implantable lenses – costing twice as much as laser procedures – may have advantages over laser surgery.

    ‘Laser surgery becomes less predictable and less safe for very shortsighted people,’ said Dr. Allon Barsam of the Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, who led the research.

    One year after the surgery, the number of patients who had 20/20 visual acuity without glasses was similar for the two kinds of surgery.

    But patients with lens implants had better contrast sensitivity and clearer spectacle-corrected vision. They also reported better quality of vision and were more satisfied with the surgery than those who had undergone a laser procedure.


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