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Laser-based project to improve human lens refilling after cataract treament

10 Jun 2021

LZH working within a new research project with Rowiak GmbH to advance refinement method.

In eye surgery for cataracts, the process of refilling the lens can effectively maintain or restore the “accommodation” of the lens, meaning its ability to adjust its refractive power flexibly.

So far, however, this method has not yet been clinically successful.

Now Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH) is working within a new research project with the LZH spin-off and Hannover-based ophthalmological laser company Rowiak GmbH to advance the method further.

In lens refilling, the interior of the lens is replaced with a gel, and the lens is “refilled”. Complications can arise in which the lens capsule becomes cloudy, or the capsular bag stiffens.

Thus, after the operation, either the patient's vision would be impaired, or the accommodation of the lens would be limited.

In the “Lens-Refilling” project, LZH scientists and Rowiak are seeking to develop a new approach. Their aim is to precisely remove only the nucleus of the eye lens and replace it with lens refilling [material].

To this end, they are developing and evaluating a method with which they can technically implement lens nucleus fragmentation while fully preserving the physiological structures.

Preserving the cortex and thus ‘accommodation’

The lens cortex would remain untouched with this new method of nuclear fragmentation using femtosecond lasers. This would likely prevent the complications mentioned above. Thus, it would be possible to restore accommodative ability after lens refilling.

This method could be used for age-related lens opacities, such as cataracts, or to compensate for presbyopia. Currently, the damaged lens is usually removed and replaced with an artificial one.

However, this artificial lens cannot accommodate itself, and the patient loses the ability to see sharply at any distance. The new method would help reduce the risk of postoperative cataracts. Patients should be able to go for a longer time without having to undergo another operation.

The full title of the project is “Fragmentation of the eye lens nucleus using a femtosecond laser to restore accommodation by lens refilling”. It is supported by Germany’s NBank with further funds from the European Regional Development Fund.

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