Several types of IOLs are used for cataract surgery. The most common is the monofocal IOL, which allows for focus at a fixed distance. A disadvantage of the monofocal IOL is the requirement of the patient to wear corrective lenses after cataract surgery. Monofocal lenses include both spheric and aspheric IOLs. The difference between the two is in the surface of the lens, whether it is spherical or aspherical. This curvature is related to the correction of spherical aberration, or the excessive refractive power of the cornea at its periphery. Aspheric lenses are generally considered to be superior. They have been shown to produce clearer vision and greater contrast sensitivity. In the Nordic region 90% of the market is aspheric. Southern Europe uses more spherical lenses while Germany uses more aspheric. However, the use of aspheric IOLs involves a trade-off, with conventional (spheric) IOLs having been shown to produce better depth of focus and near vision.
Optical biometers are partial coherence interferometry devices designed to generate a range of biometry measurements as well as to assist with intraocular lens (IOL) calculations. Optical biometers are capable of taking multiple measurements including axial length, anterior chamber depth, corneal thickness and lens thickness. All measurements are taken at a single optometry or ophthalmology station. Contact with the cornea is not required for the functioning of optical biometers, which improves measurement accuracy.
LASERs, which stands for Light Amplification (by) Stimulated Emission (of) Radiation, were developed in 1960 by Theodore Maiman. Lasers were quickly adopted for ophthalmology with the first instance of their clinical use appearing in 1963. Over the last 50 years ophthalmic lasers have proliferated in both types of lasers and indications. Despite this diversity, all lasers function on the same fundamental principles. Lasers are created when the electrons in atoms in special glasses, crystal or gases absorb energy from an electrical current or another laser and become excited/elevated to a higher energy state. Electron orbits are less stable at these higher energy states, thus energy is released in the form of a photon which allows the electron to return to its ground state. Photons are particles of light, however, what makes laser photons unique is that they are all of the same wavelength, directional, and coherent (meaning the crests and troughs of the light waves are aligned) whereas ordinary light comprises multiple wavelengths and is not coherent.
Ophthalmic ultrasound is a non-invasive technique to image ocular structures. Because ophthalmic ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves, it has advantages over light microscopy, including the ability to detect anomalies that cannot be identified by visual examination such as those affecting opaque tissues and regions within the eye. The applications for ophthalmic ultrasonography include the detection of glaucoma, infections, eye trauma and for calculating the power of the intraocular lens (IOL) required in cataract surgery. Ultrasonography is also used for aiding physicians with the placement of instruments during surgery.
Slit lamps are binocular microscopes that are coupled with illumination systems. Slit lamps are used for diagnosing a wide variety of eye conditions including cataracts, corneal injuries, retinal detachment, macular degeneration, dry eye syndrome, retinitis pigmentosa and uveitis. Basic slit lamps are used for observing anterior eye segment structures including the eyelid, cornea, lens and iris. The addition of special lenses to the slit lamps provides for the ability to view intraocular and posterior regions of the eye. Other accessories for slit lamps include ocular and objective lenses, contact tonometers, background illuminators, beam splitters and digital imaging equipment.
A tonometer is a device that is used for measuring the intraocular pressure of an eye. Elevated intraocular pressure is associated with glaucoma, a disease that is characterized by the degeneration of the optic nerve. Tonometers are segmented into contact or non-contact types. The market for contact tonometers consists of both Goldmann tonometers and portable electronic, or hand held, tonometers. Portable electronic tonometers have been on the market for approximately 25 years. However, these devices have recently had success in new areas. In particular, optometrists have been adopting handheld devices in recent years. Goldmann and handheld contact tonometers are not direct competitors. Most ophthalmologists have a Goldmann but many are also interesting in having a handheld device on hand as a secondary tonometer.
Wavefront aberrometry is used for measuring the total refractive power of the eye. A wavefront represents the quality of light passing through the eye. Factors that affect a wavefront are optical elements such as lenses or the cornea of the eye. Aberrometry provides detailed information about the visual performance and refractive power of the eye. Wavefront aberrometers can detect errors including myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. Aberrometry is especially useful for higher-order refractive errors and lenticular changes that cannot ordinarily be detected by routine ophthalmic exams. These include spherical and coma aberrations, which cause halos or comet-like streaks around light foci.
In 2016, more integration was seen in the overall market for diagnostic and interventional ophthalmic devices. In the diagnostic space, practitioners are enjoying better, more flexible diagnostic capabilities with ophthalmic data management systems; these systems unify discrete pieces of diagnostic equipment. A similar technology, procedure planning software, unifies different surgical equipment for more precise and reliable cataract surgery. This software is bringing the diagnostic and interventional sides of the market closer together, with diagnostic information being imported for use during the surgical process. Integration is also changing the competitive landscape. Topcon and Carl Zeiss Meditec, players traditionally focused on diagnostics, are now gaining footholds in the market for surgical products.
The market for diabetic retinopathy screening devices is in its infancy. Growth is expected under all forecast scenarios; however, the rate of growth will be determined by pricing and reimbursement. Several different strategies to promote widespread screening for diabetic retinopathy are being implemented across the United States and around the world. In the U.S., the success of these strategies will depend on the extent to which they are able to provide much needed services in a way that is sustainable under evolving economic and legislative conditions. Successful strategies for bringing
solutions to market will be informed by the preferences of physicians and other health care providers in the context of legislative incentives, economic constraints and the demands of a changing patient population. This report, based on a combined market and end-user study, is designed to act as a guidebook for companies and policy makers attempting to navigate this complex economic and political landscape.