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HAHNEMANN OPHTHALMOLOGIST TESTING NEW LASER EYE SURGERY TECHNIQUE

 HAHNEMANN OPHTHALMOLOGIST TESTING NEW LASER EYE SURGERY TECHNIQUE
 PHILADELPHIA, July 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Philadelphia will be the only site in the Northeastern United States to participate in clinical trials on the holmium laser, a new investigational treatment for farsightedness.
 Dr. Myron Yonoff, professor and chairman, Department of Ophthalmology, Hahnemann, has been named one of only four principal investigators -- and the only one based at an academic medical center -- for the FDA Phase II "Holmium Laser Hyperopia Thermokeratoplasty Clinical Investigation."
 The holmium laser is used to treat farsightedness (hyperopia) by reshaping the cornea in a manner that can not be achieved with a scalpel. The procedure is called laser refractive surgery, and Yanoff said he believes it will lessen or eliminate the need for prescription glasses.
 The holmium procedure has been used successfully in Europe and was studied in FDA Phase I trials performed last year in Kansas City, Mo. The equipment used in the procedure, the Omnimed(TM) Holmium Laser, was developed by Summit Technology, Inc., of Waltham, Mass.
 The eye works much like a camera, with light passing through a lens at the front and focusing on the retina -- the eye's photographic film -- in the back. "Farsightedness occurs because an individual's eye is shorter, from front to back, than normal," explained Yanoff. "As a result, the image is not focused properly when it strikes the retina."
 According to Yanoff, "The holmium laser lets us shrink parts of the cornea so that it becomes steeper and more convex. In doing so, the image ends up focused at a shorter distance and strikes the retina at a more appropriate angle for better vision."
 The holmium procedure takes about half an hour and is done on an outpatient basis. "Patients will be able to walk away from the laser surgery and many should have use of the eye within several days," Yanoff said.
 Yanoff and his team at Hahnemann are now accepting a limited number of patients into their holmium treatment study. These will be among the first 90 patients in this clinical investigation in the United States. Patients must be at least 21 years old, be in good health, and have a small-to-moderate amount of farsightedness. Their hyperopia could have developed naturally or resulted from a procedure such as cataract surgery.
 "An ideal person for our study would be someone in his or her forties or fifties, who never wore glasses before, but seems to need help in reading or seeing better at a distance," Yanoff said.
 For people who suffer from nearsightedness (myopia), another form of laser refractive surgery, using the "excimer" laser, is currently undergoing FDA evaluation and may be available for general use in two years. Currently, the most effective treatment for nearsightedness is radial keratotomy, a more traditional surgical technique that flattens the cornea with tiny, spoke-like incisions.
 "Radial keratotomy -- a procedure performed at Hahnemann's Refractive Eye Surgical Center -- has been used in the United States more than 500,000 times, with excellent results," noted Yanoff. "It is especially appropriate for people with mild or moderate myopia, who have difficulty wearing glasses or contact lenses."
 Individuals seeking more information on either the holmium laser trial or the radial keratotomy procedure may call 215-448-8044 for an appointment for a free screening examination.
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 /CONTACT: Phyllis M. Fisher or Merrill S. Meadow, 215-448-8284, after July 10, 215-762-8284, both of Hahnemann University Hospital/ CO: Hahnemann University Hospital ST: Pennsylvania IN: HEA SU:


MJ-MP -- PH004 -- 6571 07/06/92 11:04 EDT
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Date:Jul 6, 1992
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