A Las Vegas doctor is changing the way patients view their world — he’s doing it through a new surgery with lenses just approved by the FDA.
“As long as I can remember, I could never read the blackboard until I got glasses,” Judy Reiber said. “I had bad vision my whole life.”
Reiber is now in her 70s. She had glasses since she was 12.
“I went through contacts when they first came out,” she said.
Reiber’s vision was around 20/80, and she said it was getting worse every year.
“It’s horrible,” she said. “My husband has said that the worst thing in the world is me saying, ‘I can’t find my glasses,’ and I bet I say that seven times a day.”
Then she heard about the new FDA approved lenses.
“The advantage of the lens is that it provides distance, intermediate and near vision for someone doing cataracts surgery,” Dr. Jack Abrams said. “That technology was not available two weeks ago in the United States.”
Abrams is the first doctor to do the surgery in Nevada.
More than 40 million people in the country have cataracts, which causes clouding in the eyes. About four million get the surgery to correct cataracts each year.
“You see patients who have had limited vision for so many years because a majority of people lose their reading vision around age 40,” Abrams said. “It’s around age 65 they need to have cataract surgery.”
Reiber said just hours after her first procedure, “it’s a whole new world.”
“People had told me things would look brighter. I don’t know if I didn’t believe them or if I didn’t understand. But looking out of this eye after the surgery, everything was so sharp, so clear and bright.”
That’s why she said she wasn’t nervous about doing it a second time.
“The first part of the surgery is to make incisions on the eye,” Abrams said. “We use a laser to provide that. The lens implant is another minute. So within 5-10 minutes we can do the procedure, use the laser, remove the cataract and do the implant.”
After just a few minutes in the operating room, Reiber was awake.
“It’s almost like having brand new eyes, brand new vision,” Abrams said.
Abrams has only done a handful of surgeries with the new lenses. He believes this could be the closest thing to correcting vision.
“This is as perfect as we have it today,” he said. “I’m sure in 20 years, we’ll have new technology. But this is the latest technology that exists today.”
“I can read, I can watch TV, I can drive, I can work, I can do everything,” Reiber said.
Abrams said the new lenses are best for patients older than 65 with cataracts, though patients don’t need to have cataracts to get the surgery. Once the lenses are implanted, they shouldn’t need to be replaced.
The Michigan Eye Institute will begin offering a new surgical procedure for cataract patients in 2020.
In 2020, the newly FDA approved method will be used by doctors in mid-Michigan.
“This lens implant technology is the first one in the United States that offers distance, intermediate and near equal correction of vision across the spectrum without needing glasses,” said ophthalmologist Dr. Gary Keoleian.
While the actual procedure doesn’t change much, the difference of the lens can improve a persons vision drastically. Where many patients still need glasses after cataract surgery, this would fully correct vision making the need for glasses significantly drop.
“Over 70 other countries across the world have this lens implant already, and its taken off, its been very favorable,” said Keoleian. “If you have astigmatism, this lens implant can correct astigmatism as well. So that’s what helps give you this uncorrected vision.”