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Going From Four Eyes To Two

It's called the intrastromal corneal ring and for Louis Eisenberg, it spelled freedom.

"Without having to wear contact lenses, I am able to go swimming, to open my eyes under water, I can play sports...." Eisenberg told CBS News Correspondent John Roberts.

The ring is a c-shaped slice of clear plastic. Two of them are placed in the eye. Embedded in the clear layer called the cornea, they flatten out the membrane, refocusing images on the back of the eye and eliminating the need for corrective lenses.

Dr. Penny Asbell of Mount Sinai-New York University Hospital has placed the implants in more than 100 patients.

"We have patients who see 20/12 -- the tiniest letters on like any vision chart -- and they are reading them without any problem," Asbell says.

Freeing people from their glasses is big business in the United States. Last year, some 400,000 Americans opted for the increasingly popular laser surgery to correct vision, and the makers of the corneal ring hope to grab a piece of that market. In the next 12 months, that market could be worth a billion dollars.

Unlike the laser, which improves vision by zapping off a layer of the cornea, the ring isn't permanent.

There are potential downsides. Doctors warn that, as with any surgery, there is always the risk of infection. There is also always a risk that the quality of vision is not what the patient imagined.

The Food and Drug Administration wants more data on the potential long term effects of the implant, but was confident enough to recommend it for people who want to go from four eyes to two.

Reported By John Roberts