A revolutionary new treatment for sufferers of presbyopia, or long-sightedness, will be available to patients who have private health insurance for the first time tomorrow.
The procedure costs £2,800 for one eye but 90 per cent of patients will need both eyes to be treated. Patients with private health insurance may be covered for this treatment by their policy.
An estimated 23 million Brits suffer from presbyopia. As a person ages, the crystalline lens behind the cornea stiffens to a fixed structure, making it harder for eye muscles to get a clear image. This means that whilst their long sight remains good, sufferers may struggle to read maps, menus and text messages.
The new treatment, called Z Kamra, involves an operation to insert a plastic implant into the eye. A laser makes an incision in the cornea, in which an implant sits around the iris and the pupil. The implant acts as a pinhole camera, only allowing in the central beams of light which produce the sharpest images.
Z Kamra will help a projected four million suffers and spectacle wearers over the next 10 years. 6,000 treatments have been carried out so far in Japan and parts of Europe.
"Finding a treatment for presbyopia is important," said ophthalmologist Dr David Allamby, who specializes in the condition.
"By the age of 50, about 90 per cent of your lens flexibility is lost. The only people who will still read easily are those who were born short-sighted, but who already use glasses for distance work."
Early trial patients have had the implants for six years with no reported problems, and only a slight worsening of night vision.