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FDA approves eye telescope for blind AMD patients

Those who suffer from end-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD) will now have access to an implantable optical device that restores vision. The FDA recently approved the implantable device. Approximately 750,000 people in the United States are currently suffering from end-stage AMD. The highest-resolution images used in central vision are produced by the macula. End-stage AMD results in the patient suffering from permanent, complete central vision loss. The implantable telescope projects the central image around the degenerated macula instead of on to it. The telescope uses the peripheral retina for central vision. Only one eye receives the implant. The untreated eye is thus able to retain peripheral vision for mobility and orientation while the eye with the implant restores central vision. Andrea Schumann Staff Writer This implantable telescope has received more press than any of the other promising research on age-related macular degeneration. But that's more of a testament to the company's PR than to the promise of the technology. The lens is bulky and requires intraocular surgery. For patients with severe macular scarring, the scar still persists - and thus the central blind spot too. This intraocular telescope works by magnifying the central vision, much like a hand or video magnifier, but has the advantage of working at distance as well. Long-term studies have not yet been performed with this lens. Because of the size and bulk, I am concerned about the impact on the inner cornea (the endothelium). I am also concerned about long-term intraocular inflammation (uveitis) and elevated eye pressure (glaucoma). Paul Krawitz, M.D., President, F.A.A.O. Vitamin Science, Inc.

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