Gregory Hilmas has set his sights on a new solution for cataract patients and others who suffer from severe eye problems: an adjustable intraocular lens that can be tweaked after it is implanted.
Hilmas, an assistant professor of ceramic engineering, is working with St. Louis ophthalmologist Harry Eggleston to make the lens, which could be adjusted using either a thread or a magnet.
Intraocular lenses are used to replace the eye’s natural lens, which can become cloudy and opaque as a cataract or other eye disorder develops. During the first phase of this research, Hilmas and a graduate student, Michael Matthews, constructed an adjustable lens with the use of a special thread that moves the lens to adjust the prescription. In order to adjust this lens, a small, self-sealing incision in the eye would have to be made, but the patient would be able to remain conscious throughout the procedure. The next step in Hilmas’ research involves adding strong magnets to the edges of the lens. If this phase is successful, no incision will be necessary to make prescription adjustments, Hilmas says.