FDA approved IOL first trialled in NZ
Dr Dean Corbett, the first surgeon in the world to implant the new Technis Symfony IOL

FDA approved IOL first trialled in NZ

September 30, 2016 Lesley Springall

The online ophthalmological world was abuzz in August with news about the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) approval of a new intraocular lens (IOL) being heralded as a completely new class of IOL that provides superior vision across a broad range of distances.

To gain FDA approval, the Tecnis Symfony range of IOLs – it also comes in four toric models – was put through a barrage of international clinical trials, the first of which were carried out at our own Auckland Eye under the watchful care of refractive surgery specialist Dr Dean Corbett.

The FDA approval of the Tecnis Symfony is a big deal as it’s the final approval hurdle in the development of what is an exciting, new IOL design, says Dr Corbett. “The IOL has gone ballistic in Europe and Australia as it genuinely offers something new for patients.”

What makes the Tecnis Symfony unique is its patented diffractive echelette (or blazed grating) design feature which extends the range of vision the IOL affects and its achromatic technology which corrects chromatic aberration for enhanced contrast sensitivity (see Figures 1 and 2).

Fig 1 (above) Tecnis Symfony focal light points and Fig 2a and 2b below.

“The spread of a normal IOL is about 1.6 diopters, but the spread of Symfony is somewhere between 0.2 and 0.4 diopters, depending on which study you read, so the technology creates a more accurate lens-focusing system,” says Dr Corbett. This provides a real alternative to both monofocal and multifocal IOLs especially as the Symfony’s achromatic technology means the problems with multifocal IOLs at night – with some patients experiencing debilitating halos and glare, stopping them from driving – is nowhere near as severe, he says.  

“While IOLs have been the mainstay of cataract treatment for many years, we continue to see advances in the technology,” said Dr Malvina Eydelman, director of the Ophthalmic and Ear, Nose and Throat Devices Division at the FDA’s Centre for Devices and Radiological Health, in a media announcement heralding Symfony’s FDA approval. “The Tecnis Symfony Extended Range of Vision IOL provides a new option for patients that may result in better vision across a broader range of distances.”

Dr Corbett was asked by Abbott Medical Optics, developer and manufacturer of Tecnis Symfony, to undertake the first implant of the new IOL more than four years ago, following his (and Auckland Eye’s first) clinical trial on the AcuFocus Kamra corneal inlay for presbyopia.