Less than a year ago, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a brand-new artificial iris implant that has already made a huge difference for one South Florida patient. Dr. Andrew Shatz of SightTrust Eye Institute recently used this cutting-edge technology to perform the first artificial iris implantation in Florida. The surgery was also one of the first of its kind in the United States.
Artificial Iris: A New Solution to an Old Problem
When she was about 12 years old, Kathryn Mercer was injured while playing tennis. Her friends’ well-intentioned warnings to “look out!” turned to disaster. The warnings caused Kathryn to accidentally turn her face right in the path of an out-of-control tennis ball. The ball hurtled directly into her left eye, permanently damaging her iris.
Although Kathryn had undergone a series of corrective surgeries, her eye was noticeably different for decades. She tried to hide the damage with contact lenses, but to no avail.
In addition to feeling self-conscious about her damaged iris, Kathryn also felt pain when she went into the sun, squinting to protect her light-sensitive eye.
Since the artificial iris implantation surgery, Kathryn’s vision has improved, and she doesn’t squint in pain when the sun hits her eyes. In addition, now that her two eyes look the same, she no longer hides her left eye behind her bangs!
Artificial Iris Implants Offer Hope to Those Without Irises
Some people can develop iris damage as a result of an accident, as in Kathryn’s case. Sometimes, people are born without one or both irises. They might also lose their irises due to disease. The lack of an iris is a condition called aniridia.
People with aniridia are prime candidates for artificial iris implants. Aside from the aesthetic benefits, an artificial iris can decrease light sensitivity and glare, and can improve the vision of people with aniridia.
Aniridia can cause several vision issues. Because the iris regulates pupil size, people without an iris usually suffer from extreme light sensitivity. Living with light sensitivity in the Sunshine State can be a constant challenge.
Even with sunglasses, these individuals can still experience a great deal of pain and sensitivity in bright environments. Sunshine isn’t the only problem for photosensitive individuals who lack or have non-functioning irises. The bright fluorescent or LED lighting in an office building or retail store can be equally irritating.
Most people without one or both irises also have low vision. The lack of an iris can be associated with poor functioning of other parts of the eye as well, like the optic nerve, lens, retina, and cornea.
Throughout their lives, people with aniridia can be particularly susceptible to eye diseases such as cataracts and glaucoma. They may also be subject to corneal degeneration (scarring), which can lead to blurred vision or even blindness.
An artificial iris can provide the protection your eye needs, improving your vision and decreasing light sensitivity. The artificial iris is an exciting new device that works incredibly well. Because the technology is so new, it is important to rely on the expertise of the few ophthalmologists in the country who have the most experience with the CustomFlex ArtificialIris in order to get the best results possible.
A qualified ophthalmologist like Dr. Andrew Shatz at SightTrust Eye Institute has the knowledge and experience to successfully perform an artificial iris implantation. If you or a loved one are lacking one or both irises, or have a damaged iris, you might consider the artificial iris implant. Dr. Shatz would be pleased to talk with you about how an artificial iris could change your life—just like it did for Kathryn Mercer.