There is mounting evidence that blue light, like UV light, presents a hazard to the eye of the aging population.1-9 Yellow intraocular lenses (IOLs), which absorb blue light, mimic the transmission characteristics of an aged human crystalline lens and aim to protect lipofucsin-containing retinal pigment epithelial cells from being damaged by blue light. Recent studies indicate that a blue-light-absorbing IOL may reduce the risk for macular degeneration or its progression.2,3,6-11 Most importantly, a recent European Eye Study(October, 2008) involving 4753 participants aged 65 or older found a significant association between blue light exposure and neovascular or early AMD in individuals in the quartile of lowest antioxidants levels in their blood stream;the study concluded that the general population should use ocular protection and follow dietary recommendations for key antioxidant nutrients.12 Accordingly, yellow IOLs are increasingly used by surgeons;approximately half of the IOLs used in the US are blue-light-blocking. However, two recent intra-individual comparison studies13-14 in humans found that yellow IOLs have lower visual acuity and poor color vision perception compared with the clear lens (non-yellow) counterpart under low light conditions. Recent studies also suggested that patients with yellow IOLs may suffer from disrupted circadian rhythm.15 AuriumTM, a photochromic hydrophobic acrylic IOL, is designed to provide all benefits of a yellow IOL without any of its compromises. The design was based on the fact that blue-light intensity in outdoor sunlight is about 10 times stronger than indoor light wherein blue-light is weak and often necessary for good vision (Fig. 1).16 AuriumTM remains clear indoors while outdoors, where both UV and blue light are intense and harmful, it turns yellow and blocks both UV and blue light. Figure 1. Blue Light Intensity: Sunlight scale is on right;indoor light scale is on left All SBIR Phase I experiments have been successfully completed: AuriumTM is biocompatible and photochemically stable;AuriumTM meets all ISO requirements for IOLs and a CE Mark has been obtained. Now we apply for a SBIR Phase II grant to obtain an Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) for the US market.

Public Health Relevance

Approximately half of 3 million cataract procedures in the US use yellow intraocular lenses (IOLs) which reduce the risk of or slow the progression of macular degeneration, 1-7 a major cause for blindness among population over 50.17, 18 Yellow IOLs achieve this by blocking hazardous blue light in addition to UV but they also lower night vision and color perception for patients.12,13 AuriumTM, a photochromic IOL preserves all the benefits of a yellow IOL without any of its compromises and may become a standard for future IOLs.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase II (R44)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-ETTN-E (12))
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Wujek, Jerome R
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Medennium, Inc.
United States
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