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Read Original Story

Surgery instead of reading glasses? NBC’s look at new implant leaned hard on one patient anecdote

Rating

3 Star

Categories

No More Readers? New Implant May Help Aging Eyes

Our Review Summary

Eye testThis story tells a single anecdote about a woman who has trouble reading close-up materials, known as presbyopia. To fix this, she has a product known as Raindrop Near Vision Inlay, which was recently approved by the FDA, implanted in one eye. The story claims she can see better within 15 minutes, but readers aren’t given any evidence for her vision pre-and-post implant.

The story does not share any research information for how this implant, and another known as KAMRA, performed in clinical trials–it instead leans hard on this one woman’s experience. The story would been much better with numbers to help readers compare this new surgery to other alternatives for patients.

On the other hand, we were pleased to see the story explicitly discuss the costs of the surgery, and the likely lack of private insurance and Medicare coverage for it.

 

Why This Matters

Presbyopia means the eye cannot focus well on near objects and is considered a gradual consequence of aging that affects millions. Though many people function well by using low-cost reading glasses, newer solutions to this problem may have wide appeal.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story gives us the price of $4-5,000 for surgery, which is not likely to be covered by insurance or Medicare.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

This story gives us an anecdote about a single patient, who is apparently the first person to have the implant outside of clinical trials. This is not helpful for the readers who want to know the research evidence about the surgical implant(s)–what were the measured benefits in clinical trials?

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story does include an important sentence about how all surgery has risks. Here is that sentence.

“Any time you do surgery there is a risk of infection—about one in 2,000,” Hamilton says. “And an infection in the cornea can cause scarring that can affect your vision.”

But we wish the story had included the entire context for a patient considering one of two implants mentioned: What were the measured rates of side effects in the research? The story mentions that because the implants only correct vision for near objects in one eye, the other eye sometimes has to be operated on to give it perfect distance vision. We also wanted to know more about the impact of having two eyes with grossly different visual function.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not give any references for clinical research studies on the two implants mentioned or how many people were studied or any of the benefit results.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

There was no disease mongering, though including everyone older than 35 years old in the “aging” category may have been overkill.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

It was not clear from the story whether either one of the experts quoted – Ralph Chu or D. Rex Hamilton – had any conflicts. In fact, Chu is one of the researchers in a clinical study of the Raindrop implant, according to a peer-reviewed journal article we found.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

We weren’t satisfied with the story weighing the risks vs. benefits of these two surgical implants, Raindrop and KAMRA. The story did not compare the two of them to give people any idea of how they differ. Many patients who are candidates for vision correction for near vision may use glasses to correct it. The implant surgery carries risks, which include worsening vision, according to an FDA announcement on the Raindrop device.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

Both of these implants are approved by the FDA, the story tells us, but are they widely available? We are assuming that surgeons need training in how to handle these new devices. Is surgery only available in large metropolitan areas? Is it performed in a doctor’s office? We wish the story had included some details on this.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story explained that both of these devices have recently been approved by the FDA.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

The story does not appear to rely on a news release.

 

Total Score: 5 of 10 Satisfactory

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