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Fall 2004

Procedure Brings Near Vision into Focus

Baby boomers tired of reading glasses may benefit from conductive keratoplasty, the first refractive procedure specifically designed for treating presbyopia, the close-vision problem that affects most people by age 45 to 50 years. With age, the lens of the eye grows in size, becomes less flexible, and loses its ability to focus in on near objects, such as newspapers and menus.

 “We use radiofrequency energy (heat)—instead of a laser or scalpel—to reshape the cornea and bring near vision back into focus,” explains D. Rex Hamilton, M.D., director of UCLA’s Laser Refractive Center at the Jules Stein Eye Institute. “A probe—smaller than a strand of human hair—applies heat in a circular pattern of spots in the outer cornea to shrink small areas of collagen. Like tightening a belt, it steepens the cornea’s central curvature.

” The procedure takes less than five minutes and is done in-office under topical anesthesia (eye drops). There is no cutting or removal of tissue involved. When correcting presbyopia, usually one eye is treated— leaving the dominant eye alone for distance, and reshaping the nondominant eye to give it a near focus.

Dr. Hamilton usually has his patients wear a contact lens for several days in the nondominant eye first to simulate the effects of conductive keratoplasty prior to administering the procedure.

An ideal candidate for this procedure is over 40 years old, sees well at a distance without glasses, and wants to reduce dependence on reading glasses. Conductive keratoplasty has been used previously for farsightedness, but was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for presbyopia.

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