Experimental Implants May Be Answer for Lazy Eye

August 06, 2008 08:55 AM
by Cara McDonough
Implantable lenses may work as a last-ditch effort at preventing blindness in children with lazy eyes that were diagnosed too late.

30-Second Summary

The implantable lenses are the same kind that nearsighted adults can have inserted to better their vision, but aren’t yet approved for use in children.

Amblyopia, commonly called lazy eye, is the most common cause of visual impairment in children.

If the condition is caught early, treatment—patching the stronger eye or using special drops so the brain is forced to use the weak eye—can be easy. But if left untreated, the neural connections for vision don’t form and can leave the weak eye useless.

The implantable lens is not a guaranteed cure, but some doctors, including Los Angeles eye surgeon Dr. Paul Dougherty, are hopeful. He recently treated 7-year-old Megan Garvin, who, days after the surgery, could see out of her affected eye, although it’s blurry for now. Months of treatment, in the form of patching, still lie ahead.

But “Without this technology, we couldn’t help her,” Dougherty said. “This would be written off as a blind eye.”

Garvin is one of a small number of American children to try the experimental surgery. If successful, the implantable lens could join the ranks of other revolutionary implants, such as the cochlear implant, which provides sound to the deaf or severely hard-of-hearing.

However, Dr. Punin Shah, a cornea specialist at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans cautions, “how this lens is going to work in a child’s eye, we don’t know. We’ve never done studies.”

Headline Link: ‘Lens Implant Offers Chance at Beating Lazy Eye’

Background: Implantable lenses

Reference: Amblyopia

Related Topic: Cochlear implants


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