Innovative cataract, presbyopia and retinal treatment using ultrashort laser pulses

IKARUS: Behandeltes Schweineauge mittels Ultrakurzpuls-Laser. Deutlich sind die Mikrobläschen in der Linse zu erkennen, aus denen sich später die Gleitebenen bilden, die die Linse wieder flexibler und damit akkommodationsfähig machen. (Quelle: Rowiak/LZH)

Keep sight of things with age –
how the laser competes with reading glasses

At the age of 45 to 50 years, most people lose the abi­lity to accom­mo­date to near distan­ces. This effect cal­led pres­by­o­pia is the most com­mon visual defect, which is moreo­ver con­stantly gai­ning social and eco­no­mi­cal rele­vance in our aging popu­la­tion. After ano­t­her 20–30 years of life, an opa­ci­fi­ca­tion cal­led cataract may deve­lop in the lens severely impai­ring vision. Thus, cataract sur­gery is the mostly per­for­med sur­gi­cal tre­at­ment in the ent­ire field of medi­cine (640.000 per year in Ger­many, 15.6 mil­lion per year world­wide). Here, ultras­hort pulse lasers could pro­vide a tre­at­ment of pres­by­o­pia for the first time, which in addi­tion can be com­bi­ned with a gentle and relia­ble tre­at­ment of cataract. Fur­ther­more, the pur­sued objec­tives may enable a simple laser-based eye sur­gery in order to effec­tively treat blind­ness occur­ring as a result of dia­be­tes, which cur­r­ently affects about 11 % of the dia­betic pati­ents in Ger­many (up to 7.4 mil­lion people, with rising ten­d­ency). This disease is cau­sed by mem­bra­nes and con­nec­tive tis­sue deve­lo­ping in the pos­te­rior seg­ment of the eye with age, which indu­ces reti­nal detach­ments due to the resul­ting ten­si­ons. This approach of pre­cise laser sur­gery in the ent­ire eye globe inclu­ding the retina, which is pur­sued in the IKARUS pro­ject, pled­ges to address and coun­ter­act these serious con­se­quen­ces of dia­be­tes.

Ultrashort laser pulses as a universal instrument for ophthalmology

The joint rese­arch pro­ject IKARUS will rea­lize an ultras­hort pulse laser scal­pel, which enab­les mini­mally inva­sive laser cuts with high pre­ci­sion in order to induce micro­sco­pic gli­ding pla­nes wit­hin the aged lens. Due to the gain in lens fle­xi­bi­lity, the accom­mo­da­tion abi­lity will be res­to­red by up to 3 diop­ters. The sys­tem will be con­trol­led by the sur­geon via a simple inter­face and enab­les online moni­to­ring of the the­rapy due to OCT (opti­cal cohe­rence tomo­gra­phy) ima­ging. A par­ti­cu­lar advan­tage is the com­bi­ned laser beam gui­ding and ima­ging func­tion, which both are inte­gra­ted into the same opti­cal sys­tem to improve the tre­at­ment qua­lity and safety. Com­monly the lens and the vit­reous body of the eye cause a dis­tor­tion of the laser beam by aberra­ti­ons, which usually ham­per the pre­cise focu­sing of the laser pul­ses into the ocu­lar fun­dus. These aberra­ti­ons are com­pen­sa­ted by inte­gra­ted adap­tive optics, thus enab­ling a pre­cise and gentle sur­gery of sen­si­tive struc­tures in the pos­te­rior eye seg­ment (e.g. the retina). A con­ser­va­tive esti­mate of the mar­ket pene­tra­tion sta­tes 10 % of all pres­by­o­pia tre­at­ment opti­ons to be fea­si­ble by the pro­po­sed laser-based sys­tem. Due to the aging popu­la­tion, the rate of eye disea­ses such as pres­by­o­pia con­ti­nues to rise and the­re­fore indi­ca­tes a gro­wing demand for inno­va­tive tre­at­ment solu­ti­ons. The approach of IKARUS allows manu­fac­tu­rers of medi­cal laser sys­tems in Ger­many to gain a signi­fi­cant com­pe­ti­tive advan­tage over inter­na­tio­nal com­pe­ti­tors, and thus save and fur­t­her expand their out­stan­ding inter­na­tio­nal posi­tion.


Prof. Dr. Holger Lubatschowski

Garbsener Landstr. 10
30419 Hannover
phone: +49 (511) 2788 2950
E-Mail: H.Lubatschowski@Rowiak.de


3.3 Mio. €
(ca. 61% funding by BMBF)


1.10.2011 — 31.3.2015


Gefördert vom Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung Teil des Photonik Forschung Deutschland-Programms