Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Macular Degeneration Health Center

Font Size

Telescope for Macular Degeneration?

FDA Eyes Implantable Miniature Telescope When All Else Fails to Treat Macular Degeneration
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 23, 2008 -- Could an implantable miniature telescope give macular degeneration patients a vision boost when they run out of other options? An FDA advisory panel takes up that question later this week.

Macular degeneration, the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over age 60, slowly steals central vision, which is needed for tasks such as reading and driving. Central vision gradually goes from being a little fuzzy to near blindness.

The Implantable Miniature Telescope (IMT), made by VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies of Saratoga, Calif., is the first of its kind. It's 4 millimeters long and designed for people with central vision loss in both eyes from end-stage age-related macular degeneration.

"End-stage" means that "there's nothing we can do that will medically improve that eye," says ophthalmologist Bill Lloyd, MD, who writes WebMD's Eye on Vision blog.

Good candidates for the telescope have severely impaired vision but aren't totally blind, Lloyd says. Patients can only get the telescope in one eye, because they need their other eye for peripheral vision, which the telescope reduces.

In the telescope's clinical trial, patients' vision improved and so did their quality of life. "It's a promising device," Lloyd says.

Kathryn Colby, MD, PhD, director of joint clinical research at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston, agrees. "I think it's a very good device for people for whom there are no other options," says Colby, who participated in the telescope's clinical trial. "I have probably 60 patients on a waiting list that are waiting for the FDA to make its decision."

But the telescope isn't a cure -- and it does have risks. "It doesn't give people back their 20-year-old eyes which are normal in every other way. So it's very important for patients to have realistic expectations going into this," Colby says.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

What Is Macular Degeneration
human eye
What Someone With Macular Degeneration Sees
picture of the eyes
Image Collection

eye exam
Treatments For Macular Degeneration
the aging eye
senior woman wearing glasses

WebMD Special Sections