Transscleral light therapy – New way to maintain vision


As we get older small print on labels and that annoying habit magazines have of printing in white on a black background all become more difficult to read. The official term is presbyopia and it occurs at middle age when our eyes lose their ability to focus.

It can start with just a slight blurring and our close vision usually continues to deteriorate due to loss of elasticity of the crystalline lens so we are less able to focus on objects at various distances. At this point most people surrender and get glasses, a pair for close work, a pair for reading and a pair for distance, or combine them into bi or varifocal lenses. Now, a new treatment from America could change all that.

If you don’t want to wear glasses all the time, and don’t like the idea of laser surgery – which I confess I find rather more frightening than standing on the edge of Beachy Head in a force 10 gale – then three cheers for a new treatment called the transscleral light therapy system. Not a catchy name, I must admit, and it is still in the trial stage with the USA Food and Drug Administration but patient experience over the two years it has been monitored has been positive.

What happens is that a laser device emits a low level of light aimed at strengthening the ciliary muscle (which bends and straightens the lens) under the whites of the eyes. The key phrase here is ‘low level’ and consists of weekly 10-minute sessions at an optician’s office for five consecutive weeks, followed by periodic tune-up sessions about every six months. So no hospital visits, and one satisfied participant has thrown away his 8 pairs of glasses and just kept one distance pair which he only occasionally uses for driving at night.

If you think that sounds like a good option to you, and I would love to get rid of the permanent dent on the side of my nose from my glasses, then it should be widely available with 1-2 years – but not, I suspect, on the NHS.