Abbott snags FDA nod for eye surgery device

The FDA approved Abbott Laboratories' ($ABT) Healon EndoCoat OVD, an ophthalmic viscosurgical device designed for use in cataract extraction and intraocular lens implantation.

The device injects a clear gel into the eye to protect it during surgery, insulating the cornea and surrounding tissues from surgical trauma. Furthermore, Abbott's formulation of the gel doesn't require refrigeration and comes in a smaller delivery device than similar treatments, allowing for easy use and storage, the company said.

Abbott is hoping the imminent rollout of the tech will help it cash in on the more than 3 million annual cataract surgeries in the U.S. alone. Citing Market Scope, Abbott says dispersives, like EndoCoat, will account for about half the ophthalmic viscosurgical device market in 2012, and the company's latest tech will position Abbott at the front of that market, its optics vice president said. "Healon OVDs offer the surgeon the ultimate in control, clarity and ease-of-use during every step of the cataract procedure," Jim Mazzo said in a statement.

Healon EndoCoat OVD got its CE mark last year, and the device is already available in Europe, Canada and New Zealand.

Abbott Medical Optics, the company's eye tech division, is the product of Abbott's controversial 2009 acquisition of Advanced Medical Optics, a $3 billion sale accompanied by allegations of insider trading and resulting in an ongoing investigation by U.S. attorneys.

- read Abbott's statement