An Implanted Macular Degeneration Telescope

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A week or so ago I wrote a post about a new treatment that doctors in the UK had discovered to help stop age-related macular degeneration – I just found another instance of technology fighting AMD, and it’s pretty cool.

Check this out:

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The company who invented this technology, VisionCare, has a really interesting description of the procedure on their site:

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The prosthetic telescope, together with the cornea, acts as a telephoto system to enlarge images 3X or 2.2X, depending on the device model used. The telephoto effect allows images in the central visual field (‘straight ahead vision’) to not be focused directly on the damaged macula, but over other healthy areas of the central and peripheral retina. This generally helps reduce the ‘blind spot’ impairing vision in patients with AMD, hopefully improving their ability to recognize images that were either difficult or impossible to see.

The prosthetic telescope is implanted by an ophthalmic surgeon in an outpatient surgical procedure. The device is implanted in one eye, which provides central vision as described above, while the non-implanted eye provides peripheral vision for mobility and navigation. After the surgical procedure, the patient participates in a structured vision rehabilitation program to maximize their ability to perform daily activities. Situated in the eye, the device allows patients to use natural eye movements to scan the environment and reading materials.

A Phase II/III clinical trial which enrolled over 200 patients is complete.

There are two types of this crappy macular degeneration- a “wet” version, and a “dry” version:

Dry (atrophic) AMD accounts for approximately 90% of all AMD cases. Dry AMD is usually evident as a collection of small, white-yellow fatty deposits called drusen, which accumulate under the macula. This condition results in degeneration of the macula from the aging and thinning of macular tissue. Late stage dry AMD is called geographic atrophy. This condition accounts for many of the new cases of legal blindness due to AMD each year in the US. It is also responsible for a significant portion of permanent vision impairment associated with AMD. There are currently no accepted therapies for dry AMD.

Wet (exudative) AMD is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels, or choroidal neovascularization (CNV), under the macula. These abnormal vessels are fragile and leak fluid and blood under the macula, resulting in scarring of the macula. Wet AMD develops in only 10 to 15% percent of individuals with AMD, but usually dramatically affects vision. The end stage of wet AMD is called disciform scar and is often associated with permanent central vision loss. Current and investigational therapies for wet AMD focus on slowing or halting the progression of the disease and include laser photocoagulation, photodynamic therapy (PDT), and investigational anti-angiogenesis drug therapies injected into or in back of the eye. There are currently no accepted therapies for end stage (disciform scar) wet AMD.

Another technological advance in helping people keep their eyesight. I couldn’t imagine this kind of misery, so I hope as many people who need to read this get to read it.

Thanks, VisionCare, for all the info!