The Scharioth Macula Lens (SML) is a magnifying add-on lens implant, designed for eyes which have already had cataract surgery and which also have macular disease such as macular degeneration. It aims to improve reading vision and near visual function significantly, by enabling reading of small print at short distances of around 15cm.
The inventor of this lens, Professor GB Scharioth, is an ophthalmic surgeon in Germany. In his first published series from 2015, 7 out of 8 patients experienced improvement in reading vision after surgery, with no effect on their distance vision. Furthermore, the lens was found to be safe with no intra-operative or post-operative complications.
Telescopic lens implants for patients with macular disease were first trialled some 20 years ago and have never really caught on, due to astronomical costs owing to their complex optical design, loss of peripheral vision, and (for the older designs) large incision sizes and difficulty of reversal.
By contrast, the SML is designed to magnify for near, rather than distance, and by its design has no effect on the peripheral vision which patients with macular degeneration are so reliant upon. The trade-off is that in order to benefit from the magnification for reading, the material being read needs to be just over twice as close to the eye than normal reading distance (i.e. 15cm vs 30-40cm). However many elderly patients with macular degeneration will still find this significantly easier than holding a magnifying lens steady at a similar distance. Finally, the SML implant is relatively easy to remove, because it sits in front of the lens capsule rather than within it. This means that the procedure is reversible if patients are not happy with the results.
As of November 2016 I am making enquiries with the inventor and UK distributor for this very interesting lens implant, and I will post updates as I find out more.