Permanent contact lenses let you see clearly

May 28, 2010 4:54:50 PM PDT
Some 126 million Americans wear eyeglasses and another 34 million wear contacts. But a new surgical procedure could change that. They're permanent contact lenses that offer the right candidates a chance to toss the glasses forever and retire the contacts for good.

Craig Matus, 38 is about to undergo a procedure that could open his eyes to a world he's hasn't seen in ages.

He said, "I've worn glasses since I was in the third grade."

Craig suffers from myopia, or nearsightedness. He says after years of eyeglasses and conventional contacts, he's ready to see the world in a different light.

"Be nice to wake up in the morning and see your clock beside the bed without having to, uh, reach for glasses," Craig said.

He's getting the Visian ICL, or permanent contact lenses. They're designed to help nearsighted people who can't, or don't want to undergo Lasik surgery -- a procedure which involves permanently removing corneal tissue. But with the ICL, a super-thin lens is implanted into the eye for a life-long fix.

Opthamologist Dr. Edward Wade explained, "It goes behind the pupil, in front of the crystalline lens that's in the eye and it's there permanently. It can be removed, if necessary, down the road."

The procedure is virtually painless and quick -- about 10 minutes per eye. Dr. Wade, who's done about a hundred of the surgeries, says it's FDA approved and works best for patients in their mid-forties and younger -- or before the age they start needing reading glasses.

The biggest concerns are a slight chance of eye infections and an even smaller chance of developing cataracts. But Dr. Wade says the benefits are clear.

"They're able to leave the office being able to see well enough to drive that day," he said. "These are patients that have been in glasses since second or third grade."

Just minutes after his surgery, Craig's vision is better than it's been in years.

The procedure is not cheap -- about $3,300 per eye. It's not covered by insurance because it's considered cosmetic surgery.


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