KCRG-TV: UI to Begin Testing Cataract Treatment with Driving Simulator

By Forrest Saunders

The University of Iowa will soon be testing out eye implants that aim to make it easier for those with cataracts to drive at night.

Researchers will conduct the study this fall and make use of an elaborate driving simulator based off the college’s National Advanced Driving Simulator.

Cataracts are a clouding of the lenses in eyes, caused by injury or old age. To patients, it’s like looking through a frosted window. Things are more difficult to see, especially at night.

“If this lens clouds, when they see light they start to get halos around the light,” said Andrew Spurgin, a research fellow on the project. “That can lead to a decrease in visual acuity.”

Surgeons often implant replacement artificial lenses as a treatment for cataracts, but the UI will be testing a new type to make sure they work.

“This is a multifocal intraocular lens,” said Spurgin. “It has multiple different areas of magnification throughout the lens. Like a bifocal or trifocal.”

Researchers will be using a large van, loaded with a driving simulator, to test the abilities of about sixty people who’ve recently had the new lenses implanted. The simulator mimics what it’s like to drive at night.

“It’s a virtually empty roadway,” said Andrew Veit. “There are signs that are placed next to the roadway.”

Subjects are asked if they can read those road signs while being bombarded with light from oncoming traffic.

Researchers will record subjects’ responses and evaluate their accuracy.

Once the study is done, the maker of the artificial lenses will send results to the Food and Drug Administration, who’ll have final say on whether the lenses will be approved for widespread use.

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