They say hindsight is 20/20, but what if your eyesight could be better than 20/20 now and for the rest of your days? That’s the promise Canadian optometrist Dr Garth Webb is making with his bionic lenses.
Dr Webb is the founder and CEO of Ocumetics, a company whose vision is perfect vision. To help people the world over to have perfect eyesight, Ocumetics have spent an estimated $3 million over eight years developing their Bionic Lenses.
“This is vision enhancement that the world has never seen before,” Dr Webb told CTV News.
“If you can just barely see the clock at 10 feet, when you get the Bionic Lens you can see the clock at 30 feet away.”
The human crystalline lens can gradually grow cloudy over time, leading to cataracts. Ocumetics Bionic Lenses are made from inert biocompatible polymeric materials, which the company says “do not cause adverse biophysical changes within the eye”.
Dr Webb said the procedure for having the lenses put in your body is is essentially the same process as having cataract surgery – it’s painless, takes about eight minutes, and upon completion the patient would immediately have perfect eyesight for the rest of their life “no matter how crummy your eyes are”.
For those not in the know, cataract surgery sees a doctor create a small incision in your eye, remove your lens and replace it with a plastic one. But under Ocumetics’ plan rather than a plastic lens, you would have a bionic one inserted.
Dr Webb is estimating Bionic Lenses could be on the market within two years, pending successful trials on animals and blind patients. Anyone over the age of 25 – generally the age at which people’s eyes have fully developed – who needs corrective lenses would be eligible for the surgery. At this stage there is no suggestion as to what the price may be.
So is it credible? Dr Vincent deLuise – a retired eye physician and surgeon, and professor of ophthalmology at Yale University – said it could help bring about “excellent vision at all ranges”:
“There’s a lot of excitement about the Bionic Lens from very experienced surgeons who perhaps had some cynicism about this because they’ve seen things not work in the past. They think that this might actually work and they’re eager enough that they all wish to be on the medical advisory board to help him on his journey.”
However Dr deLuise has been asked to manage a foundation Dr Webb has set up called Celebration of Sight, which aims to bring eyesight to the developing world based on the idea “uncompromised vision is a privilege tantamount to a basic human right”.
While the foundation has noble goals and Dr deLuise has an impeccable CV, his involvement in Dr Webb’s foundation somewhat compromises his gushing praise for the Bionic Lenses.
In short, leave your glasses or contacts on for now, but watch this space.