New surgery may fix need for reading glasses

WASHINGTON — What’s essentially a minuscule contact lens that never has to be removed or cleaned is changing the way people address near vision challenges.

The Raindrop Near Vision Inlay is the first implantable device that changes the shape of the cornea to help vision, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which announced its approval in a news release on June 29.

“This is the Holy Grail of refractive surgery,” said Dr. Mark Whitten of Whitten Laser Eye. “It’s the thing that we’ve been looking for years to help people get rid of their reading glasses.”

Losing near vision, presbyopia, is part of the normal age process and begins for most people in their 40s or 50s. Using bifocals or reading glasses is a common way to address it.

Whitten and his partner Dr. Shilpa Rose are among the first doctors in the nation to perform Raindrop Near Vision Inlay. He has practices in D.C., Richmond and Charlotte Hall, Maryland.

“So far, we’ve never had a laser type procedure that can do reading vision without losing some of the distance correction,” Whitten said. “Now, they can get both done at the same time.”

Because vision correction by eye surgery is considered cosmetic, insurance doesn’t cover it.

Whitten said Raindrop Inlay costs about $4,000.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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