Regional, Sumter eye doctor's surgery offers life without 'readers'

Dr. Greene is 1 of 3 in the state to perform inlay, near-vision procedure

BY BRUCE MILLS
bruce@theitem.com
Posted 2/18/18

Want to get rid of those reading glasses?

There's a new surgery that's offered by a regional eye doctor, or ophthalmologist, that restores near vision and reduces the frustrations of using those "readers."

Dr. Howard Greene of Carolinas …

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Regional, Sumter eye doctor's surgery offers life without 'readers'

Dr. Greene is 1 of 3 in the state to perform inlay, near-vision procedure

Posted

Want to get rid of those reading glasses?

There's a new surgery that's offered by a regional eye doctor, or ophthalmologist, that restores near vision and reduces the frustrations of using those "readers."

Dr. Howard Greene of Carolinas Centers for Sight based out of Florence, but who operates one day per week out of Eye Care Specialty Center at 528 Broad St., discussed the advanced surgical procedure Friday at the Sumter practice.

The surgery - called Kamra Inlay - treats a common natural eye condition called Presbyopia, which reduces the ability of the eye to focus on near objects and causes blurry reading vision. This blurred near vision typically occurs in adults when they reach middle age - 40 to 45 years old.

The Kamra Inlay procedure has been done in Europe for about five years now but has only been performed in the U.S. during the last couple years, Greene said. He's one of three eye surgeons in the state who does Kamra Inlay. He performs the actual laser surgery in Florence, out of the Carolinas Centers for Sight facility.

The other two eye surgeons who do the procedure in South Carolina are based out of Bluffton (Beaufort County) and Greenville.

The Kamra Inlay procedure is similar to the common laser eye surgery known as Lasik, Greene said, and can be done at the same time. Lasik provides vision correction so both eyes can see at a distance.

But about half the people who come in for Lasik surgery are middle age and have Presbyopia (blurry near vision) also, Greene said.

"These people are expecting Lasik is going to help them see well at all distances," Greene said. "But the fact is they have trouble seeing at a distance and also up close. And it's discomforting to them for us to mention, 'If we do the common Lasik procedure, and have both eyes now seeing in the distance for driving, you'll have to wear 'readers' up close.'"

These people are typically not interested in that, Greene said.

For a long time, ophthalmologists have looked for ways to help people get out of glasses because people wanted to do so, Greene said.

That's where the Kamra Inlay procedure can now come into play.

In the procedure, after a person's dominant eye is aimed for distance in Lasik surgery, the non-dominant eye is aimed for three to four feet. Then, an inlay mini-ring is put in the cornea of the non-dominant eye that allows someone to see both distance and near.

"Through an expansion 'pinhole effect,' with the inlay, people can see at three or four feet but also up close at about one foot for reading and in the distance for driving," Greene said. "In fact, in-between can be seen well, additionally."

In effect, Kamra Inlay restores near vision while maintaining distance vision without blurry zones, Greene said.

The human brain processes well the use of one eye for near vision and then the dominant eye as the "distance eye," according to Greene.

The near-vision abilities through the new procedure last long-term without aging changes, unless a person's cornea changes or he or she develops cataracts.

With the increased use of computers and mobile phones, the need for up-close vision has only grown in the last decade. But with Presbyopia, when people reach 40 to 45 years old, it can slowly become more and more difficult to use a mobile phone or computer without putting on reading glasses, Greene said.

"So, it's helpful to have an alternative for the people who don't desire to continue with glasses," Greene said.

People can do the Lasik surgery first and then a month later or so do the Kamra Inlay, Greene said, or people can have them both done at the same time. If both are done at the same time, it takes about 30 minutes from start to finish.

Kamra Inlay is also beneficial for plumbers and electricians, who don't want glasses to get in the way while working in tight spots, Greene said.

Costs can get pricey for some people though. According to Greene, almost no insurance covers Lasik and definitely none cover Kamra Inlay.

By itself, Kamra Inlay can cost about $3,500, Greene said. If someone needs Lasik, plus the Kamra at the same time, it's about $4,500.