New Zealand clinical trials give hope to millions of cataract sufferers across the globe

New Zealand clinical trials give hope to millions of cataract sufferers across the globe

26 February 2015, 8:04PM
weber shandwick

New Zealand surgeons are leading the way in cataract surgery outcomes with local clinical trials of a new cataract lens technology proven to give people with cataracts an extended range of vision and a higher level of independence from eyeglasses[1,2].

The vision care business of the healthcare company, Abbott, has introduced an advancement over traditional technologies — the new TECNIS® Symfony intraocular lens (IOL). It is the first and only extended range of vision lens available that will help people with cataracts see better at all distances, including far, intermediate and near, providing them with increased freedom from eyeglasses[2].

Traditionally after cataract surgery, people may still require eyeglasses3. However, the clinical trials with the TECNIS Symfony IOL showed that 100 per cent of people who had the lens implanted no longer required glasses for distance vision, while 94 per cent said they didn’t need glasses for ‘arm’s length’ reading, and 87 per cent could go without them for ‘close at hand’ reading[2].

The New Zealand clinical study, conducted with Doctor Dean Corbett from Auckland Eye at the Oasis Research Facility, confirmed the positive surgery outcomes after the TECNIS Symfony IOL was implanted into the eyes of 31 people with cataracts.

“These are the only clinical trials for this new lens that have been conducted in the Southern Hemisphere, which is a great achievement for New Zealand ophthalmology,” said Dr. Corbett.

“This new and unique lens technology offers people with cataracts a better quality of life after surgery, giving them significantly improved visual freedom, function and quality.

“With the TECNIS Symfony lens, we now have the ability to offer patients a quality of vision never before achievable, with distance, near and intermediate focus. This will enable a patient to follow a more enjoyable lifestyle, with much less dependency on glasses to interact with their day-to-day environment.”

The TECNIS Symfony IOL can be used for the treatment of cataracts in people who may also have a diminished ability to focus on near objects, known as presbyopia4. The lens differs from traditional technologies in that it has a unique ‘echelette’ design – a circular, grooved surface – that enables the eye to focus across a continuous
range of distances, without sacrificing a person’s visual clarity or contrast[1,2,4,5,6].

Auckland nurse, Victoria Taylor, took part in the TECNIS® Symfony IOL clinical trials as soon as she discovered she was living with cataracts in both her eyes.

“After a few months of terrible glare and blurry vision, I couldn’t ignore it any longer, and I saw an optometrist who told me I didn’t even have adequate vision in one eye to drive. All this time, I thought I could see well enough,” recalls Victoria.

“My near work in my role as a theatre nurse has been fabulous and I have never looked back since my surgery. I am seeing better now than I have for a very long time.”

In 2013, nearly 30,000 cataract surgeries were performed in New Zealand7. Cataract is a leading cause of vision loss in New Zealand and the primary cause of cataract is ageing8. With the over 65 age group continuing to grow in New Zealand9, the incidence of cataract is likely to rise and the demand for surgery will continue to

“Whilst the demand for cataract surgery increases, I think it’s important for surgeons and patients alike to recognise that now, more than ever, they need to consider the visual outcome a patient is looking for,” said Dr. Corbett.

Cataracts are more likely to affect women than men10, with other risk factors including; smoking, diabetes, a family history of cataracts, a previous eye injury or long, unprotected sun exposure[3].

If you experience any signs commonly associated with cataracts, such as blurred vision, sensitivity to glare, distorted vision in the affected eye or symptoms of cloudiness11, speak to your GP, optometrist or ophthalmologist.

[1] 168 Data on File. Symfony Simulated Defocus Curves
[2] 166 Data on File. Extended Range of Vision IOL 3-Month Study Results (NZ)
[3] The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Opthamologists (RANZCO) 2002, What is a cataract?, RANZCO, Sydney, viewed 11 December 2014,
[4] Abbott Medical Optics 2014, Introduction: TECNIS® Symfony IOL, Abbott Medical Optics, California, viewed 9 December 2014,
[5] Data on file. CT8692 TECNIS Symfony Tech PowerPoint 28.04.2014
[6] Artal, P., Manzanera, S., Piers, P., & Weeber, H. (2010). Visual effect of the combined correction of spherical and longitudinal chromatic aberrations. Opt Express, 18 (2), 1637-1648
[7] Data on file from AMO Australia Pty Ltd
[8] Southern Cross Healthcare Group 2013, Cataracts – causes, symptoms, treatment, surgery, Southern Cross, New Zealand, viewed 12 December 2014,
[9] Statistics New Zealand 2000, Population ageing in New Zealand – article, New Zealand Government, New Zealand, viewed 15 December 2014,
[10] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2005, Cataract in nearly one-third of older Australians, Australian Government, Canberra, viewed 12 December 2014,
[11] Southern Cross Healthcare Group 2013, Cataracts – causes, symptoms, treatment, surgery, Southern Cross, New Zealand, viewed 12 December 2014,