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Would you risk your eyesight to toss your reading glasses?

We can never find them when we need them. They keep falling off our faces when we’re reading the newspaper.

And just when we find the perfect prescription, our eyesight changes.

But if you think those trusty reading glasses are a hassle, wait until you see what a group of eye surgeons has in store for you.

They call it a KAMRA inlay, and a KAMRA surgery center may be coming soon to a strip mall near you. They’re promising it’s a simple in-and-out procedure that will rid you forever of your need for reading glasses – they’re even calling it the next LASIK.

But don’t expect the coming onslaught of commercials to give you the full story on KAMRA – like the tales of eye damage, lost eyesight, and hundreds of people who are already saying it’s the worst decision they’ve ever made.

The FDA just approved the KAMRA inlay for an eye condition called presbyopia. But for most people with the condition, even a five-buck pair of reading glasses from Walgreen’s would be preferable.

Presbyopia sounds serious, but it’s actually considered a natural part of aging for people over 40 – and it’s something lots of us are familiar with. It’s a creeping form of farsightedness that can cause blurring, eyestrain or headaches when you’re reading or doing anything that requires looking at things close up.

It’s also easily correctable with reading glasses. Even the cheapest kind.

But the KAMRA inlay can spare you that minor inconvenience. All it takes is for a surgeon – an inexperienced one, too, since the procedure is so new – to cut a pocket into the cornea of your eye.

Then he’ll insert a device that allows light rays to pass through a pinhole-size opening while blocking peripheral light.

AcuFocus, which developed the surgery, will tell you that thousands of KAMRA inlays have already been implanted in other countries. But the truth is, hundreds were later removed due to customer complaints.

Even during the clinical trials, people were begging to have the inlay removed so they could return to their old reading glasses.

You see, the KAMRA inlay can cause or worsen dry eye and leave you with glares, halos, and blurry, cloudy vision — it may even make it nearly impossible for you to see at night.

And those are the more positive side effects – the surgery can leave you with a thinned or even perforated cornea.

Removing the inlay if you have these problems isn’t as easy as AcuFocus makes it out to be. One expert calls that a “naïve assumption.”

Even the FDA admits that some of the KAMRA side effects – like a decrease in vision – may be permanent. You could be stuck with a stronger pair of reading glasses than you had before the surgery.

In fact, a key FDA advisory committee was initially deadlocked on the simple questions of whether KAMRA inlays were safe and whether the benefits outweighed the risk. The committee needed a tie-breaking vote.

So maybe the FDA should have asked this question instead: is having to wear reading glasses such a nuisance that we’d rather risk permanent eye damage to avoid it?

Sources:

“FDA approves first-of-its-kind corneal implant to improve near vision in certain patients” FDA News Resease, April 17, 2015, fda.gov