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New eye technology for cataract patients comes to NZ

New technology is giving New Zealanders with cataracts a better chance at improving their sight.

The treatment, described as a next-generation monofocal intraocular lens (IOL), is known as TECNIS Eyhance’ IOL and was developed by Johnson & Johnson Vision.

The new surgical procedure replaces the lens in the eye with an artificial lens and is the first of its kind to be offered in New Zealand.

Prior to the release of the treatment, most available monofocal lens only correct vision to help patients with cataracts see at a distance and do not take into consideration or improve immediate vision.

For instance, the most common IOL procedure is to replace the lens in the eye with a monofocal lens with a fixed focus for one distance.

According to a statement, the TECNIS Eyhance’ IOL is ‘an important first’ for the monofocal IOL category as it improves both distance and immediate vision.

Cataracts are a common problem in New Zealand, with around 370,000 New Zealanders are estimated to be living with the issue. This has also been identified as one of the leading causes of blindness and low vision in the country.

By 2020, nearly 22,800 New Zealanders are projected to have cataract-related vision loss and around 2,000 are expected to have cataract-related blindness.

According to Johnson & Johnson Vision, cataracts may be a common issue, but they are also highly treatable with safe and effective surgical procedures.

With the progress made in treatment options, the number of cataract surgeries performed worldwide is increasing, and post-operative outcomes are also improving, Johnson & Johnson says.

In New Zealand, cataract removal is one of the most common eye operations performed today, with approximately 30,000 procedures conducted every year.

The new technology and procedure enables people to have the surgery without having to accept they will not have clear or strong immediate vision - instead they can rest assured they will have near and far vision post-operation, says Auckland Eye consultant ophthalmologist and surgeon Dr. Dean Corbett.

Corbett says, “Despite the advancements in technology, patients are still forced to make a trade-off decision on their vision with existing treatment options.

“While they are able to have corrected vision at a distance, they still require glasses for near and intermediate activities, which include day-to-day tasks such as computer and desk work.”

Johnson & Johnson Vision, Asia Pacific & Japan regional vice-president of surgical, Christoph Vonwiller, says the lens is a significant improvement over current treatment options.

“TECNIS Eyhance' IOL is a game-changing product from our innovation pipeline that builds upon the legacy of the TECNIS' family of IOLs and the proven design of our one-piece platform,” says Vonwiller.

“Our post-surgery outcomes have shown that most patients can perform certain activities with greater ease following the implantation of the new IOL, such as being able to walk on uneven surfaces, and to engage in activities of personal interest,” he says.

“This solution is testament to Johnson and Johnson Vision's commitment to work with eye care professionals to connect cutting-edge insights, science and technology to preserve and enhance sight for life," says Vonwiller.

TECNIS Eyhance' IOL has been approved by Medsafe, making it a treatment option for New Zealand patients when a monofocal IOL is being considered.