As the population of the world ages, associated eye problems will mean significant
growth for the ophthalmic laser market.
The number of people 60 and older has
tripled in the past 50 years. As of 2000,
there were 606 million people over the age
of 60 worldwide, according to a United
Nations report, and that global population
is projected to reach nearly 2 billion in
In the US alone, the 90-and-older population nearly tripled over the past three
decades, reaching 1.9 million in 2010, according to a November 2011 report by the
US Census Bureau and supported by the
National Institute on Aging. Over the next
four decades, this population is projected
to more than quadruple.
The aging population is subject to
unique eye conditions, such as cataracts,
which are a clouding of the eye’s natural
lens. More than 15 million cataract surgeries are performed worldwide each year to
surgically replace the damaged lens with
an intraocular lens.
Besides the aging population, other factors driving the global ophthalmic laser
market, which is expected to reach $804
million by 2015, are increasing accessibility to advanced laser eye treatment; the increasing proportion of people needing vision correction, especially in Asia; and an
increase in patients opting for eye surgery,
said Global Industry Analysts (GIA) Inc.
in an ophthalmic lasers report released in
Although demand for certain major
ophthalmic laser treatments declined during the economic recession as people postponed elective surgeries, technological developments continued, GIA said,
providing the stimulus needed to drive future growth.
“Certain new technological develop-
ments in laser surgery are believed to offer
benefits beyond vision correction and at-
tract significant demand in the future,”
GIA said. “Application of laser technology
in early diagnosis, and the detection of
certain eye disorders in conjunction with
imaging technologies, such as OCT, is an-
other factor that would boost growth of
the laser eye correction market in the fu-
On Aug. 6, New York-based eye health
company Bausch + Lomb and ophthalmic
laser maker Technolas Perfect Vision of
Munich announced that their Victus femtosecond laser designed for cataract and
corneal surgery had received clearance
from the FDA.
Femtosecond lasers, with their ultrashort pulses, do not transfer heat or shock
to the material being cut and can make
surgical incisions with extreme precision.
The technology was introduced commercially in 2002 for creating thin, hinged
flaps during lasik surgery.
Companies that make femtosecond
lasers commercially for ophthalmic applications include Calmar Laser, Advanced
Medical Optics and Carl Zeiss Meditec.
Carl Zeiss Meditec announced in April
that it will begin a US clinical trial of its
ReLEx smile procedure for correcting myopia, or nearsightedness, after receiving
In lasik procedures, the excimer laser
vaporizes tissue, but the ReLEx smile
method generates a refractive lenticule in
the intact cornea with a femtosecond laser.
The surgeon then removes the lenticule
through a small incision – less than 4 mm
– without having to move the patient to an
excimer laser, the company said.
“The introduction of femtosecond laser
technology is the most significant advancement in cataract surgery in recent
history,” said Dr. Steven J. Dell of Dell
Laser Consultants in Austin, Texas, in the
press release announcing the Victus’ approval.
The Victus is the first femtosecond laser
that can support both surgical procedures
on a single platform, the companies say,
and it is designed to provide greater precision compared with manual cataract surgery techniques. The laser received CE
mark approval in Europe in November
2011 and has been used in more than 2000
cataract or refractive procedures worldwide, the companies say. They are working to gain approval in the US for additional applications.
In June, Iridex Corp. announced the
first use of its MicroPulse laser therapy
(MPLT) through an intraocular fiber optic
endoprobe during ophthalmic surgery.
“Expanding MPLT applications from
physicians’ offices into the operating room
and surgery centers will continue to drive
growth in our laser systems,” said Iridex
President and CEO Dominik Beck.
MicroPulse works by electronically
“chopping” a continuous-wave laser emission into trains of microsecond pulses, enhancing the physician’s ability to more
precisely control the laser effects on target
tissues. It is more effective for very thin
retinas, allowing more tissue to be preserved than in conventional continuous-wave laser photocoagulation, the company
Iridex is working to accelerate adoption
of MicroPulse for treating diabetic macular edema (DME), Beck said in an early
August statement announcing the com-