PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Most people know contact lenses as an easy way to correct eyesight. Now though, they are being used to treat severe problems like dry eye disease. FOX43 looked into a treatment called Prokera that is said to actually reverse the problem.
"It's probably the most overlooked disease in our industry," Dr. Ryan Yealy of Yealy Eye Care told FOX43.
Dry eye disease, while not fatal, can severely impact a person's quality of life. One treatment offers the promise of not just treating symptoms, but actually healing the cornea. It's called Prokera.
"It took us several years and we completed development and cleared with the FDA since 2004," Dr. Scheffer Tseng said. He developed the product after many years of studying birth tissue.
"Who would think about taking a tissue from OB and then sticking it in someone's eye, right?" he said. "So it's not something very traditional. Normally, this is the tissue that is thrown away, like a waste." Instead, he took the amniotic tissue from the placenta and used it to create a type of contact lens that acts as a bandage, healing the cornea.
It may sound out of the box, but Dr. Yealy has used Prokera to treat more than a thousand patients over the past few years with great results.
"A lot of my patients will tell me they get relief for months," he said. The painless procedure couldn't be more simple and takes literally seconds to perform in office while the patient is awake.
After wearing the lens for one day, he says his patients come back to the office to have it removed and they immediately feel relief.
The treatment isn't cheap at $2200, however, but it is covered under the Medicare/Medicaid programs. Private insurances cover it as well, as long as you meet your deductible first.
"You have to weigh the cost vs, quality of life and when it comes to your eyes and vision, that matters," Dr. Yealy said.
Results have lasted anywhere from three to six months. For more information on Prokera, click here.