August 6, 2003.
Millions of aging baby-boomers could be spared the need to use reading glasses to see the small print if a new treatment developed by scientists in Australia is proven safe and effective.
The technique, which involves replacing the contents of the lens in the eye with a soft polymer gel, will initially be used to improve cataract surgery in elderly patients.
"But once it is shown to be safe and effective, we think that more and more younger people who are starting to need reading glasses will adopt it as well," Arthur Ho, of the University of New South Wales, told New Scientist magazine on Wednesday.
As people age, the lens in the eye, which focuses by changing shape, becomes less flexible so by the time most people reach their mid-to-late 40s they need reading glasses.
Inserting the gel would be similar to cataract surgery but the lens would not be replaced. The contents will be sucked out by a tiny incision in the cornea and replaced with the gel.
"This could be a quick 15-minute procedure," Ho added.
Ho, who is a member of the Australian government's multinational Vision Co-operative Research Center, believes he and his team have discovered the right gel formulation for human eyes and hope to begin trials next year.
Tests on animals have been promising.
Copyright 2002 Reuters.
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