Femtosecond laser are ultrafast and ultrashort lasers that release optical pulses 10-15/seconds. The generation of short pulses are achieved by using the passive mode locking technique. This technique is used for generating pulses of light in very short duration (such as for picosecond or femtosecond durations). The femtosecond lasers are popular among ophthalmologists, as such devices help in simplifying and avoiding complex processes of open surgeries. Flap creation in laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) is the most common use of this type of laser. It can also be used for other corneal refractive procedures, cataract surgery, and lamellar and full thickness corneal transplantation. The femtosecond laser allows thin and uniform flaps that improve the stability, safety, and precision of the flaps. Added advantage of the femtosecond laser is that it allows the medical doctor to select the cutting angle, position, and diameter of the hinge, as well as the flap diameter and flap thickness, which may offer better flap stability and reduce clinical epithelial ingrowth.
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Potential target population in the U.S.
According to Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in 2015, approximately 20.5 million people in the U.S. suffered from cataract, mainly those aged 40 years and older. One of the foremost drivers for ophthalmic femtosecond lasers market is an increasing incidence rate of cataract and rising geriatric population. Among emerging economies, cataract is the major cause of severe visual impairment. World Health Organization carried out a population-based prevalence survey for blindness, across various regions in Africa that are not endemic for trachoma or onchocerciasis, and discovered a blindness rate of around 1%, with cataract accounting for 40%-50% of visual loss cases.
Refractive error can include near-sightedness (myopia), astigmatism or presbyopia, farsightedness (hyperopia). There are several surgical actions for correcting or adjusting eye’s focusing ability by reshaping the cornea, or clear, round dome at the front of your eye. Other procedures involve implanting a lens inside your eye. According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- About 14 million people aged 12 years and above self-reported visual weakening defined as distance visual acuity of 20/50 or worse in 2009 in the U.S. Of these, 11 million people could have enhanced their vision to 20/40 or better with refractive correction.
- Also, Glaucoma major affects over 2.7 million people over 40 years of age in the U.S.
- About 2.1 million people in the U.S., aged 50 and above suffer from late age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which can lead to severe vision impairment. In 2010, 9.1 million people in the U.S. suffered from early AMD. By age 80, one in ten people in the country suffers from late AMD, which is more common in women than in men.
Factors impeding ophthalmic femtosecond lasers market growth
Major factors which are hindering the growth of this market are shortage of ophthalmologists. Owing to the presence of key players in North America occupied the leading position in this market with largest share. Over the impending years, the strong focus of these players on R & D, the availability of healthcare infrastructure and a well-established regulatory structure for timely approval of the products are likely to support this regional market to retain its position.
Due to large base of the population, China is expected to emerge as the most attractive domestic market for ophthalmic lasers in Asia Pacific. The Middle East and Africa and Latin America are also projected to witness a considerable rise in their respective markets for ophthalmic lasers in the near future, due to the thriving medical tourism and the low cost of laser eye surgeries in these regions.
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Key players operating in the global ophthalmic femtosecond lasers market are IMRA America, Inc., Newport Corporation, Abbott Medical Optics, Alcon, Bausch & Lomb, Carl Zeiss Meditec, and Ziemer Ophthalmic Systems.