“Patients with iris defects may experience severe vision problems, as well as dissatisfaction with the appearance of their eye,” said Malvina Eydelman, M.D., director of the Division of Ophthalmic, and Ear, Nose and Throat Devices at the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “The approval of the first artificial iris provides a novel method to treat iris defects that reduces sensitivity to bright light and glare. It also improves the cosmetic appearance of the eye in patients with aniridia.”
Congenital aniridia is a rare genetic disorder in which the iris is completely or partially absent. It affects approximately 1 in 50,000 to 100,000 people in the U.S. The iris controls the amount of light entering the eye, and those with aniridia have sensitivity to light and other severe vision problems. In addition to congenital aniridia, the CustomFlex Artificial Iris is indicated to treat iris defects due to other reasons or conditions, such as albinism, traumatic injury or surgical removal due to melanoma.
The iris is made of thin, foldable medical-grade silicone and is custom-sized and colored for each individual patient. A surgeon makes a small incision, inserts the device under the incision, unfolds it and smooths out the edges using surgical instruments. The prosthetic iris is held in place by the anatomical structures of the eye or, if needed, by sutures.
Effectiveness proven in clinical trial
The safety and effectiveness of the iris was demonstrated primarily in a non-randomized clinical trial of 389 adult and pediatric patients with aniridia or other iris defects. The study measured patients’ self-reported decrease in severe sensitivity to light and glare post-procedure, health-related quality of life, and satisfaction with the cosmetic improvement or appearance of the prosthesis. More than 70 percent of patients reported significant decreases in light sensitivity and glare as well as an improvement in health-related quality of life following the procedure. In addition, 94 percent of patients were satisfied with the artificial iris’ appearance.
The study found low rates of adverse events associated with the device or the surgical procedure. In the study, complications associated with the use of the CustomFlex Artificial Iris device included: device movement or dislocation, strands of device fiber in the eye, increased intraocular pressure, inflammation of the iris (iritis), adhesion of the iris to the cornea or lens (synechiae) and the need for secondary surgery to reposition, remove or replace the device. Complications associated with the surgical procedure included: increased intraocular pressure, blood leakage in the eye, swelling of the center of the retina (cystoid macular edema), secondary surgery, corneal swelling, iritis, and retinal detachment.