Cataract is the most common eye disease world wide. Almost 100% of the Europeans between 65 and 75 years suffer from this disease. The ageing processes of the natural intra ocular lens are the reason for cataract. With increasing age, crystalline structures build up inside the natural lens. This stiffens the usually highly flexible lens and makes it cloudy, leading to two problems. First, the patient looses the ability to accommodate , i.e. to focus depending on the distance of the object, e.g., close (when reading a newspaper) or distant (when driving a car). Usually to overcome this problem special reading glasses are used. Second, the clouding of the lens caused by cataract results in substantially less light and washed-out images at the retina, coming close to blindness.
If the natural lens is highly clouded, the only solution is to implant artificial intra ocular lenses (IOL). In Germany in 2001 over 500.000 implantations have been done. This makes IOL implantations to the most common surgery in ophthalmology, at the same time being one of the oldest having its seeds in the old Egyptians. The surgery nowadays is often done by keyhole techniques and ambulant. It can take as little as 20 minutes per eye. Using local anaesthesia it implies a lot less strain compared to former surgery techniques.
Innovative Design: Ultra Thin und Bifocal
However, one problem remaining even after implanting an artificial lens is the lack of the accommodation ability, since common IOL are not flexible. Hence patients up to know had still to continue to use reading glasses. In addition, surgery demands foldable and hence very flexible artificial IOLs for implantation through very small cuts in order to increase precision of the surgery results and to decrease healing time.
The design developed at the ITIV perfectly meets both requirements. The result is an intra ocular lens with a micro structured diffractive surface which makes it both ultra thin and bifocal.
This results in a relief for the patient since the bifocal IOL can be implanted via keyhole surgery through a cut of only 2 mm length . To implant it through this small cut the IOL has to be folded using a special technique before being injected through a small tube. Once inside the eye it unfolds to its original size.
Even more important for the patient then this quite no-strain surgery technique is probably the fact that no reading glasses are needed after the surgery any more. The bifocal lens developed at the ITIV is designed to focus both distant and close objects at the same time without real limitation of the acuity.
In close collaboration with our industry partners it was possible develop and optimize the bifocal intra ocular lens to be ready for market. In extensive clinical trial the superb optical properties of this lens could be proven. After the initial launch phase the bifocal intra ocular lens is now a successful product helping cataract patients world wide.
Innovation Award of Brandenburg and Berlin
To honour this innovative product design the states of Berlin and Brandenburg awarded their innovation in December 2001.
The picture of the award (right) shows Prof. Jacobi (Universitätsklinik Gießen), Prof. Kamman (St. Johannes-Hospital Dortmund) as well as Dr. Kreiner (AcriTec GmbH), Dr.rer.nat. Stork (ITIV) and Mrs. Juliane von Friesen, the senator of research of the state of Berlin.