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    FDA OKs Implantable Telescope to Aid Vision

    Implantable Miniature Telescope Improves Sight for Patients With Macular Degeneration


    In a news release issued by the company, she says clinical results from FDA tests "have proven we can place this tiny telescope prosthesis inside the eye to help patients see better and, for some, even to levels at which they can recognize people and facial expressions that they could not before."

    Despite advancements in therapies for macular degeneration, "retina specialists still did not have a treatment for the many wet and dry AMD patients who progressed to end-stage disease," says Julia A. Haller, MD, professor and chair of the department of ophthalmology at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, in the company's news release.

    Heller, ophthalmologist-in-chief of the Wills Eye Institute, says the device represents new hope for patients with end-stage disease.

    Potential Side Effects

    Patients with end-stage macular degeneration also may have visually significant cataracts, the FDA says. Patients must agree to participate in a postoperative visual training program to be eligible for the device.

    The FDA says that in a 219-patient clinical study of the IMT, 75% improved their level of vision from severe or profound impairment to moderate impairment.

    Although smaller than the size of a pea, the IMT is large enough to pose a threat to the cornea of the eye, leading to extensive loss of cells essential for maintaining the clarity of the cornea.

    In the study, 10 eyes had unresolved corneal edema, or swelling, caused by trapped fluid. Five such cases resulted in corneal transplants.

    The FDA says the five-year risk for unresolved corneal edema, corneal decompensation, and corneal transplant are 9.2%, 6.8%, and 4.1%, respectively.

    As part of the program, patients and their doctors must agree to discuss the risks associated with implantation.

    Also as a condition of FDA approval, VisionCare must conduct two post-approval studies. In one, it is required to continue follow-up of patients from its long-term group for two years. Another study of 770 newly enrolled people will include an evaluation of the endothelial cell density and related adverse events for five years after the device is implanted.

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