A gel-like material being developed by scientists at the VA Hospital and Washington University in St. Louis could eventually mean the end of bifocals and contacts for millions of middle age and older people who suffer from presbyopia — literally "old vision." The material, which could be used to replace old hardened lenses in patients, including those with cataracts, was described today at the 226th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the worlds largest scientific society.
While not a life-threatening condition, presbyopia affects nearly everyone over the age of about 40 or 45. As people age, according to one theory, the lenses in their eyes slowly harden making it more and more difficult to focus on nearby objects. The current solution for most people is reading glasses or contacts. Even people who undergo corrective laser surgery often still need glasses for reading and up close focusing.
"Our idea is that if we can remove the lens and put in a material that is soft, like a young healthy lens is at age 20, then they would have their accommodative ability restored," says researcher Madalene Fetsch. "They would be able to focus on near and far objects."
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