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Strong Light for Sore Eyes

Today’s primary glaucoma treatment involves application of eye drops-as often as ten times a day-to reduce pressure in the eye caused by blocked drainage canals. But a new company called Solx, based at Boston University’s Photonics Center, is developing a high-energy laser that can reduce and even eliminate reliance on daily medications for the estimated three million people with glaucoma in the United States. Solx’s infrared laser emits quick pulses of light, producing acoustic shock waves in the eye that physically shake and unclog the drainage canals. “It’s like beating a carpet with a tennis racket,” says president and CEO Doug Adams. The lasers now used to treat some glaucoma patients emit powerful continuous beams that, as a side effect, burn tissue in the eye. Because this leaves permanent scars, patients can only undergo this procedure once or twice. The Solx treatment leaves no scars and can be performed annually. The company plans to seek regulatory approval of the treatment this spring and expects to launch the product by the end of the summer.

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