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Telescope for Macular Degeneration?

FDA Eyes Implantable Miniature Telescope When All Else Fails to Treat Macular Degeneration

About Macular Degeneration

"The macula is the central-most area of your vision," Lloyd says. "Think about a map of the United States -- the macula of your retina is like Kansas City. It's a relatively small piece of real estate compared to the entire map. But nonetheless, so much of our visual input, which is 70% of what we experience in life, is processed by that tiny little island of dense photoreceptors."

In end-stage macular degeneration, "that's gone," Lloyd says. But "you still have plenty of other real estate that's not as good, not as rich in photoreceptors."

"Unfortunately," Lloyd says, the density of the photoreceptors in these outlying areas is not as precise as it was in the macula... It's not the same as seeing 20-20, but it's certainly much better."

How the Implantable Telescope Works

The telescope magnifies images by recruiting other parts of the retina to make up for the loss of the macula. "What it does is it enlarges the image that the patients can see to compensate for their macular degeneration, Colby says.

In the telescope's clinical trial, 206 patients took eye tests before getting the implantable miniature telescope. One year later, 67% of them could read at least three extra lines on the doctors' eye chart, compared to their eye test results before getting the telescope.

"One of the patients I implanted actually was able to return to a long-loved avocation of sculpting that he had had to give up," Colby says.

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