Dr. Harton Presents Groundbreaking Research in Barcelona, Spain

Harbin Clinic Ophthalmologist, Dr. Paul Harton, has been involved in a research project making new strides in capturing the inner workings of the eye on video. A first for this kind of research, the study and technology earned Harton a special speaking engagement in Barcelona, Spain, to present the findings to the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ESCRS).

Dr. Harton and three other ophthalmologists produced the first known real time video of the process of natural human accommodation. Natural Accommodation is the process of how the lens and other structures inside the eye function when an individual focuses from a distant object to one near and then back again. Until this video and study of Natural Accommodation, only still pictures had been taken of this process.

“Our group and specifically our site produced the first known real time video,” Dr. Harton said.  Previously only individual ultrasound pictures could be studied – no video,” he explained.  He continued, “Other video studies used pharmacologic simulations of Accommodation, however our video shows the eye naturally accommodating just like you were at home or in your office.”  Dr. Harton’s counterparts involved in the study were Dr. Rob Rivera from Phoenix, Arizona, Dr. John Vukich from Madison, Wisconsin and Dr. Barrett Ginsberg from Ft. Myers, Florida.  This group of four physicians make up The Accommodation and Ocular Imaging Council. 

“Our study was accepted for presentation at the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ESCRS) in Barcelona on Sept 12-16, 2009,” Harton said. He was the one who presented the findings at the meeting.  He said that it was well received and he will be presenting it again in Boston at the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ASCRS) meeting in April.

The Accommodation and Ocular Imaging Council was brought together by Sonomed, Inc.  Sonomed manufactures a high resolution ultrasound machine that is capable of producing real time video images of the inside of the eye.  This is a new technology.   

Dr. Harton explained that “Accommodation” is the increase in power of the optical system that allows an individual to focus on a near object.  “This ability to ‘accommodate’ is lost as we pass 40 years of age or so.  Industry is trying to find ways to correct this without much success.  It is a very important and a popular topic in our specialty,” Dr. Harton said. 

“Hermann von Helmholtz theorized what happens during accommodation over 150 years ago and now we have been able to validate much of his work with our videos,” Dr. Harton said.        

Dr. Harton’s group used their technique to study 31 eyes (spread over the four sites) and described the changes in the lens and the musculature within the eye as it attempts to focus on a near object.  The group hopes to expand to a total of 80 eyes by April. “Our hope is to better define what happens during accommodation so that we can design a lens implant that can restore the near focusing ability in patients over 40,” Dr. Harton said.

The title of the presentation is, “Assessment of Human Crystalline Lens Changes in 20-25 year-old Subjects during Accommodation.”