Staar Surgical Co. on Tuesday said that its Visian implantable lens for people with astigmatism has been approved for sale in Japan, a potentially huge market for the Morovia company.

The Visian Toric Implantable Collamer Lens is the second Visian approval for the company, which had its regular ICL product to treat near-sightedness approved last year by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

"This is a very important milestone for Staar," said Don Todd, president of the Asia Pacific Region. “Japan has high rates of myopia and astigmatism in Japan. This approval opens up a significant market opportunity for the company.”

Staar’s Visian line is marketed as a more effective and less invasive alternative to refractive surgery. The company cited a recent industry report that ranked Japan as the third largest refractive surgery market in the world, with 375,000 procedures performed last year. In Japan, approximately 30 percent of the population has some degree of astigmatism, the study said.

Visian ICL and Toric ICL products now are marketed in more than 50 countries. The Japanese approval means that the United States is the only major market in the world where approval of the Toric ICL is still pending, the company said.

Staar shares were down 51 cents, or 5.6 percent, to $9.45 in midday trading on the Nasdaq.

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