Corneal Inlays: A Surgical Reading Glasses Alternative

As you get into your 40s and 50s, you will probably find it more challenging to read a book or see your phone’s screen up close, which is a symptom of presbyopia, a common age-related eye disease. Presbyopia is caused by a stiffening of the lens of the eye, which weakens the ability to focus on close objects over time. Until recently, eyeglasses, contact lenses, or laser vision correction surgery were the most popular treatments for presbyopia.

Corneal inlays are now a viable alternative to reading glasses. They are surgically inserted in the eye and restore close-up vision. Your ophthalmologist will help you figure out whether you’re a good candidate for a corneal inlay and which kind is best for you.

Corneal Inlays: What Are They?

corneal inlays

A corneal inlay is a small unit, about the size of an eraser tip. A laser is used to cut a small pocket or flap in the center of the non-dominant eye’s cornea during a 10-15 minute surgery. Depending on which inlay is used, the inlay is inserted into or under this pocket or flap. By the depth of focus of the cornea’s center, the implant corrects close-up vision.

There are two types of corneal inlays, each with its own appearance and function. One of them has recently been approved by the FDA for use in the United States.

Refractive Corneal Inlays. Refractive corneal inlays are designed similarly to multifocal contact lenses or intraocular lenses, with various areas of the inlay providing different degrees of magnification. This allows the eye to concentrate on both near and far distant objects. The FDA is currently reviewing this form of inlay.

corneal inlays

Small Aperture Inlays. Small aperture inlays act similarly to a camera’s aperture, adjusting the amount of light that reaches the eye. This gadget is a donut-shaped ring with a pinhole in the center. The pinhole narrows the field of vision by focusing light very precisely through the eye. This allows for improved close-range vision. The KAMRA is the first small aperture inlay to be approved by the FDA for use in the United States (in April 2015).

What You Should Know About Corneal Inlays

corneal inlays

● Corneal inlays are typically used in people who have presbyopia but no refractive errors (like myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism). A “combination” procedure may be performed for people with refractive errors, which involves performing LASIK to correct the refractive error at the same time as the inlay is inserted. Some of these techniques are called “off-label” applications of corneal inlays. The FDA allows physicians to use a drug “off-label” if they are well-informed about the product or procedure and studies show that it is beneficial.
● If you want corneal inlays, you must be free of corneal diseases such as keratoconus (cone-shaped cornea).
● Corneal inlays should not be used on patients who have uncontrolled dry eyes or blepharitis unless these symptoms are treated first.
● Corneal inlays should not be used for patients who have cataracts.
● Some corneal inlays require a test to ensure that the cornea is dense enough for the procedure.
● Corneal inlays usually are only placed in one eye at a time (your non-dominant eye).
● If you want corneal inlays, you must be free of corneal disease such as keratoconus (cone-shaped cornea).
● Corneal inlays should not be used on patients who have uncontrolled dry eyes or blepharitis unless these symptoms are treated first.
● Corneal inlays should not be used for patients who have cataracts.
● Some corneal inlays require a test to ensure that the cornea is dense enough for the procedure.
● Corneal inlays are normally only placed in one eye at a time (your non-dominant eye).

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