New lens may restore sight - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New lens may restore sight

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December 9, 2002
by Janet Wu

Boston-- For most people, contact lenses help clear up blurry vision. But imagine a Lens that actually restores lost sight. That's the reality of a new type of lens developed for some patients with corneal disease.

Little Ian seems like a typically active boy. But recently his life was quite different. said Ian’s mom, Helen Alastaire. "He couldn't see. He just couldn't live his life. He stayed indoors with a Pillow over his head to protect his eyes."

A bad reaction to a common antibiotic left him blind and in pain. But a special contact lens developed in Boston has restored his sight. "This lens can help patients who are blind or disabled from diseases of the Cornea,” says scleral lens inventor and ophthalmologist Dr. Perry Rosenthal.

The cornea is the clear tissue over our eyes. Like a camera lens, we focus through it. So when it's damaged, people cannot see. Much larger than a standard contact, the scleral lens fits completely over the Cornea, creating a new clear surface through which the eye can focus.

"It’s like a miracle,” says Dr. Rosenthal. “People, who haven't been able to see for years, for decades, all of a sudden put on this lens and they can see."

Today they gather at a special lunch to thank Dr. Rosenthal and support his research. "All of a sudden it didn't hurt all the time to open my eyes and I could see without sunglasses," says Marcia Conners, who was blinded by illness.

"He just looks around and it's like he's in wonderland all day every day," said Helen Alastaire. One patient gives doctor Rosenthal a fitting gift, the white cane she no longer needs.

About 100,000 people are affected by corneal diseases that leave them blind. Currently, the scleral lenses are not covered by insurance.

For more information, you can log onto www.bostonsight.org.


posted at 5:05PM by dave.miller@walb.com