FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Corrective eye surgery helps many people get rid of their glasses and contact lenses. For many who are nearsighted, surgery is not an option.
A new lens implant approved by the Food and Drug Administration could help them shed their thick glasses.
Without her glasses, April Pace can only see things clearly about two inches in front of her.
Only 1 to 2 percent of the population has moderate to severe myopia. Surgeries that change the curve of the eye's surface cannot fix the problem.
Pace has waited a long time for something else that offers hope.
The VERISYSE, or phakic interocular lens implant, has been offered in Europe for 17 years. The FDA just approved it for use in the United States. Pace is the first patient in North Carolina to receive the lens.
"It goes on top of the iris without removing the lens and without changing the curvature of the outside of the eye, that is the cornea," eye surgeon Dr. Michael Woodcock said.
Using drops to numb the eye, Woodcock cuts a pathway for the lens and slides it in. After the lens is in place, clips on the sides attach the lens to the iris. The slit is stitched closed.
After less than 40 minutes, the procedure is finished and Pace notices a difference. After two days of recovery, her new world is even clearer.
Without glasses, she can see the detail of a friend's face and the color of their eyes.
"And with the other eye, I can't even see where your eyes are," Pace said.
A day after her surgery, Paces' corrected eye had 20/15 vision. When she heals, she is eager to have the procedure done to her other eye.
Woodcock says the average cost of the procedure is $3,500 to $4,000 per eye. The elective surgery is not covered by insurance.