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July 22, 2004

New Treatment for Nearsightedness

The UPMC Eye Center is offering a new treatment that corrects nearsighted patients’ vision while they sleep. Corneal refractive therapy (CRT) is a non-surgical process that uses rigid, oxygen permeable contact lenses to gently flatten the cornea overnight.

At bedtime the patient inserts the lenses, which are slightly larger in diameter and flatter than normal rigid contact lenses. As the patient sleeps, the lens causes the cells on the surface of the eye to migrate, temporarily flattening the cornea. When the patient awakes and removes the lenses, most experience clear vision without the help of corrective lenses for the rest of the day. The lenses also enable patients to see at night while wearing the lenses.

“It’s exciting to be able to offer this new option for vision correction,” said Amy Nau, director of optometric services, UPMC Eye Center. “Prior to CRT, refractive surgery was the only choice for patients who didn’t want to wear glasses or contacts, or couldn’t wear contacts during the day – CRT provides a less expensive, non-surgical option for patients who either aren’t candidates for surgery or would prefer not to have surgery.”

Since the lenses are worn at night, the therapy is effective in some patients who are unable normally to tolerate contacts, including those who suffer from dry eye.

Initially, it takes 10 – 14 consecutive nights of wear for the patient to achieve optimum vision improvement. After this adjustment period, most patients have 20/40 vision or better during the day following nighttime use of the lenses. The process is not permanent and can be reversed by not wearing the CRT lenses for 72 hours.

CRT is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for patients with low to moderate myopia, with or without moderate astigmatism.

For more information, call the UPMC Eye Center at 412/647-2200.

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