Collamer®: Is It Really Better?

GOLDEN, CO September 9: Collamer® is a proprietary material used by Staar Surgical Company in the manufacturing of many of its lenses, including the Visian Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL), a phakic IOL or implantable contact lens, in colloquial terms. Staar today released a statement celebrating the growth of Visian, whose use has doubled since 2008. Staar hopes that Visian will continue to see growth in demand, and helped to facilitate that by launching a newly expanded Visian line, which it said, “more than doubles the market opportunity for Visian and [allows] us to compete directly within the most popular myopic and hyperopic ranges of treatment with LASIK.”

Based partly on the success of the Visian, Staar has a large series of new lenses currently in the investigational stages that it hopes will compete with or even replace many of the advanced IOLs on the market for use in cataract surgery. This includes, for example, the nanoFLEXTM IOL, which is currently an investigational device in the United States. In its press release, Staar touted how impressed one of the investigational surgeons was by the nanoFLEX, saying that “nanoFLEX intermediate visual results were equal to or better than competitive products including Crystalens® HD and 5, ReZOOM®, and ReSTOR®.” This follows up on an earlier statement by researchers that “It seems quite likely that with design enhancements the accommodative properties of the nanoFLEX can be expanded to compete very effectively in the premium IOL segment.”

This marketing talk from Staar-associated doctors calls attention to some of the other marketing language Staar uses in attempting to promote its Visian and related Collamer lens products. On its website, Staar talks, for example, about the superior visual properties of Collamer lenses, saying:

  • Collamer lenses provide exceptional quality of visian.
  • Compared to other lens materials (including acrylic and PMMA), Collamer has less internal reflectance, reducing or eliminating the occurrence of glare and halos.
  • Collamer induces fewer higher order aberrations than other lens materials.

Although it gives some basis to support these claims, the website primarily refers us to data kept on file at the Staar Surgical Company’s office. A call to Staar Surgical Company elicited a repetition of sales material and even an invitation to talk to the chemist responsible, but the data itself was not forthcoming. What data that is readily available compares the higher order aberrations in ICL to other types of foldable IOLs. This data was based on a small series of 80 patients who received four different lenses. Although the data was nominally significant for comparing Collamer lenses to two other lenses, it was not significant for a third, and all data was taken only a week postoperatively.

This is not to say that Collamer is not a better material for phakic IOLs, only to say that the impressively-footnoted data on its superiority looks a lot less impressive when you actually look at the data, and to hope that in the future more of this data will be available to the public.