All currently available IOLs have one thing in common: they are the same shape in the manufacturer’s package as they are inside the eye. In order to get these IOLs through a small incision and into the eye these lenses must be folded or squeezed into an insertion cartridge and “delivered” into the eye.
Just as in the delivery of a baby, squeezing through a small canal has its risks. The IOL can be deformed or torn. The incision can be stretched resulting in a leaky wound. The later can result in an increased risk of infection.
Enter the thermoplastic hydrophobic acrylic material. This material has a science fiction-like ability to change shape as temperature changes At room temperature it is shaped like a rod allowing the surgeon to easily slip it through a small incision and into the eye. As the material heats up to body temperature it transforms into a biconvex lens. Truly amazing!
This IOL is still experimental so we won’t see it for a couple of years (at least). Nevertheless, it is an exciting technology and worth watching.
© 2009 David Richardson, MD