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A bus driver takes part in a protest in central London August 5, 2009. London bus drivers gathered near Marble Arch to protest about pay and conditions. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT TRANSPORT) - RTR26FEA
Reuters/Stefan Wermuth
Don’t worry, it’s only temporary.

The end of reading glasses is approaching—for those who aren’t squeamish

By Kabir Chibber

More than a billion people around the world suffer from age-related long-sightedness, otherwise known as presbyopia—a blurriness in near vision experienced after the age of 40. But a solution may be imminent—for people who don’t mind having their eyes cut open.

Researchers told the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology that a thin ring inserted into the cornea improved near vision for 83% of the participating patients well enough to read a newspaper—without disturbing vision for further distances—for a three-year period. The KAMRA inlay—undergoing clinical review—measures 3.8 millimeters in diameter with a 1.6 millimeter hole in the middle. “When dropped into a small pocket in the cornea covering the front of the eye, the device acts like a camera aperture, adjusting the depth of field so that the viewer can see near and far,” the AAO said. “The procedure to insert the implant is relatively quick, lasting about 10 minutes, and requires only topical anesthesia.”

The AAO said that in the past, complications from corneal inlays included haziness, but improvements in inlay design have made the effect less common. And the treatment is reversible—the inlays can be removed. For those who can stomach it, the treatment is already available; the KAMRA is already sold in Asia, Europe, and South America, but is not yet approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, which has three types of corneal inlay currently under review.

Others may be happy with the less invasive joys of reading glasses.