Bringing the latest technology to eye care
Eye Health The vision industry has a range of new, cutting-edge technologies that are helping people overcome their vision problems and see more clearly than ever before, as optometrist and Head of Professional Development at the Association of Optometrists, Karen Sparrow explains.
The technology that is available to improve the lives of people with vision problems has advanced greatly in recent years.
For example in cataract surgery, a specialist eye surgeon now removes the lens in the affected eye that is causing cloudy or blurred vision through a small incision in the eye, before replacing the lens with a clear plastic one. The new generation of cataract surgery uses the femtosecond laser, a laser that allows surgeons to use highly accurate, needle-free and blade-free surgery with the potential to remove the lens or cataract through a pin-prick incision.
Benefits of new eye care technologies
As a practising optometrist, Karen Sparrow sees the advantages that these technologies have brought to people with vision problems. “The femtosecond laser is one of the latest advances in cataract surgery”, Karen Sparrow says. “Improvements in cataract procedures and outcomes allow patients to have surgery and, in most cases, as an outpatient benefit from fewer complications and shortened recovery times which allows them to get new glasses, and enjoy their improved vision more quickly.”
As well as advances in laser procedures, patients have recently benefitted from new types of multi-focal intra ocular lenses inserted into the eye during surgery. “This advance means some patients can have near and close vision, in the same way as vari-focal glasses, but the lens in their eye is helping them focus up close and at a distance”, Karen says.
Lasers have also brought advances to refractive eye surgery. Surgeons can now use much more refined techniques to reshape the cornea using computer programs to give greater control in reducing the eyes’ focussing error, and hence, reducing the need for spectacles.
Improvements in light refractive lenses
For people who wear glasses, newer lenses are made of cutting-edge plastic materials that are lighter, thinner and safer than ever before. Also sunglass technology is providing improved solutions for UV eye protection, Karen says.
“There have been lots of advances in photochromic lenses - those that change colour when exposed to light. Twenty or thirty years ago these lenses used different chemical reactions that were far less effective and wore out more quickly than the advanced lenses used today.
We have far better technologies for photochromic lenses coming through now with much more effective and efficient transitions
“We have far better technologies for photochromic lenses coming through now with much more effective and efficient transitions. Manufacturers of modern lenses have worked really hard to overcome some of the early shortcomings so lenses have a longer life without deteriorating or losing efficacy or UV protection.”
Google Glass and the future
On the horizon, companies like Google are focusing their attention on the eye-filing patents for Google Glass that allows internet access from your glasses, and smart contact lenses that could monitor the wearers’ blood sugar levels, eye pressure and other vital signs. Which means even more innovative technologies and solutions for vision problems.