Research Project for Innovative Laser Launched
First-of-its-kind procedure in the world for retinal laser treatment currently under development
In cooperation with leading scientific institutions, Carl Zeiss Meditec is currently developing a new technology for laser treatment procedures on the retina. “Together with our partners, we are currently working on an optimized, low-pain treatment solution which is designed to support eye specialists in efficiently treating patients suffering from a widespread eye disease. The efficient therapy is capable of further reducing possible side-effects of the treatment for patients. Moreover, the new procedure will presumably require fewer treatment stages, therefore saving additional costs over the midterm,” as Ulrich Krauss, President and CEO of Carl Zeiss Meditec, points out. Among the cooperation partners joining the medical technologies company are the Medical Laser Center Lübeck, an internationally recognized research and development institute, the Institute of Biomedical Optics of the University of Lübeck, as well as the Eye Clinic of the University Hospital of Schleswig-Holstein in Kiel, Germany.
The research project was officially launched by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research. The concept behind the project, which was selected as the winner of the “Innovation Competition for the Advancement of Medical Technology” by the ministry, has already been successfully tested on an experimental basis. The project, which is slated to run for 3 years, is unprecedented anywhere in the world.
The research project is aimed at implementing an exact dosage of the laser radiation for each individual eye – even for each treatment area within the eye – during retinal procedures by ensuring that the laser automatically adjusts to the optimal temperature needed for a specific treatment. The new laser ensures that treatments are conducted at the lowest temperature required for the therapy, therefore largely eliminating side-effects and pain. The new technology is used to treat widespread eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy.
Laser irradiations of the retina, so-called photocoagulations, are the most successful laser procedures in ophthalmology and have been used to treat retinal diseases for over three decades. In Germany, approximately one million photocoagulations are performed on the retina every year. Diabetics suffering from diabetic retinopathy are the most commonly affected. The disease causes hemorrhaging in the eye. The retina becomes detached at the blood leakage points, resulting in visual impairment. Left untreated, it can lead to blindness. With the help of laser light, hemorrhaging blood vessels can be re-sealed. As a result, blood supply to the center of the eye, and thus also central vision, are restored. In many instances, however, the laser light not only sealed the defective blood vessels, but also resulted in temperature increases in the surrounding tissue, causing potential damage. It was also painful for patients. With the new laser, complications of this nature are no longer an issue.
Carl Zeiss is a pioneer of laser applications in ophthalmology. The first ZEISS photocoagulator was developed in 1956 in cooperation with the ophthalmologist Dr. Gerd Meyer-Schwickerath from the University Eye Clinic Hamburg. Today, Carl Zeiss Meditec is one of the leading manufacturers of ophthalmic lasers.
Diabetic retinopathy is the most frequent cause of blindness among people of working age in Europe and North America. Some 30,000 people lost their eyesight as a result of diabetic retinopathy in Germany alone within the past few years. Ocular thrombosis as well as age-related macular degeneration can also be treated with the new method.
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