Reviewed by: Dr. David Evans
Reduce Dependence on Reading Glasses with the KAMRA or Raindrop Inlay
If you are looking to restore your reading vision, you have many exciting options to choose from. Corneal inlays, sometimes referred to as corneal implants, are a type of implantable device designed to correct presbyopia, the condition that makes it necessary for you to wear reading glasses to see up close. Currently there are two brands of corneal inlays available in the U.S.: The KAMRA inlay (approved April 2015) and the Raindrop Near Vision Inlay (approved June 2016).
As you may have read, corneal inlays are just one of many types of implantable lenses. The various lens options differ in where they are placed and what vision problems they are designed to correct. Corneal inlays are placed in the central zone of the cornea, right in front of your pupil, under a flap of tissue or in a special pocket created with a laser. In most cases only one eye is treated (non-dominant eye) for clear vision. This allows you to see near and far objects without experiencing any blurry zones.
Watch the following animation for the KAMRA inlay procedure to learn more, or continue reading below to discover the benefits and cost of corneal inlays.
Why Should I Choose Corneal Inlays?
- Reduce or eliminate your dependency on reading glasses
- Quick procedure time
- Little or no discomfort
- Performed on an outpatient basis
- Minimal downtime (resume most activities the next day)
- No sutures required
- Unlike some procedures, no corneal tissue is removed
- Corneal inlays can be replaced or removed
- Less invasive than implant procedures involving the removal of the eye’s natural lens
AcuFocus’ KAMRA corneal inlay is FDA approved and is indicated for presbyopic people aged 45 to 60; ideally those with good distance vision who are seeking to improve near vision. Typically implanted in the non-dominant eye, the KAMRA device is smaller than a contact lens. It measures a mere 3.8 millimeters across and has a 1.6 millimeter aperture (small hole in the center). Rather than changing the shape or adding focusing power to the cornea, the KAMRA inlay utilizes this pinhole design to extend the patient’s range of vision from near to far. This offers long-term performance to help patients continue to enjoy clear near vision over time. The inlay can be implanted in approximately 15 minutes and patients can resume most activities the next day.
Raindrop Near Vision Inlays
Revision Optics’ Raindrop Near Vision Inlay is FDA approved for the treatment for presbyopia in the U.S. Even smaller than the KAMRA inlay, the Raindrop Near Vision Inlay has a diameter of 2 millimeters. The device is made of a biocompatible hydrogel material that, according to Revision Optics, most closely matches the human cornea. The Raindrop Near Vision Inlay functions in a similar fashion as a multifocal contact lens in that it changes the curvature of the cornea. The inlay is implanted under a flap made using a femtosecond laser (like all-laser LASIK).
(Revision Optics, the manufacturer of Raindrop, closed its doors on 1/30/18, but it’s not yet clear what impact this will have on Raindrop availability.)
Am I a Candidate for Corneal Inlays?
You should be over 45 years of age with presbyopia to be considered a candidate for corneal inlays. Your vision should be stable and you should not have a history of eye disease. It is also very important that you have realistic expectations of the surgery, and that you accept the potential risks and complications associated with corneal inlays.
There are several types of corneal inlays; you may be a candidate for one but not for others. It depends on your individual needs, and on whether you have had other eye surgeries.
How Do Corneal Inlays Work?
There are a few types of corneal inlays, and each employs a slightly different method of action to give you clear vision. Some use a pinhole effect to sharpen near images, while others are lenses implanted in the corneas, which work similar to multifocal contact lenses. You can witness the pinhole effect for yourself quite easily. Punch a small hole in a piece of paper and view a near object, such as your iPhone, through the hole. The image should be clearer through the pinhole.
Risks and Complications
There are risks and complications associated with all surgeries. Here are some of the potential risks associated with corneal inlays:
- Reduced quality of vision
- Glare or halos around lights
- Night vision problems
- Fluctuating vision
Sometimes complications are temporary, but in some cases follow-up surgery may be needed. Some patients still need to wear glasses for certain tasks. If your corneal inlays need to be removed, you may be able to replace them with a different implant, or even have a different type of surgery, but there is always a possibility that the your vision will not return to exactly the way it was before the inlay procedure. Speak with your eye surgeon to learn more.
Corneal inlay costs can fluctuate significantly based on the surgeon performing the procedure and unique patient considerations. Generally speaking, the cost of the corneal inlays could range from $4,000 to $5,000, but you need to speak with an eye doctor to get a more tailored cost estimate.