Macular Degeneration Vision Improved with Implantable Telescopes

centrasight implantable telescope AMDCentraSight Implantable Telescope

The CentraSightTM treatment program has introduced a tiny implantable telescope  to improve central vision loss caused by ARMD. Though there is no cure for AMD at this time, nine out of ten patients in a clinical trial reported visual improvement and quality of life.

ARMD is the leading cause of vision loss and legal blindness in persons over 65. The disease disrupts light sensing of the eye’s macula — sensory cells located behind the lens and retina. The macula is responsible for the central vision and fine detail detection. Peripheral vision remains functional, but it is primarily for movement detection and too blurry for functional sight. AMD affecting both eyes to the point of central blindness is referred to end-stage AMD and severely limits what a person can do.

Clinical Trial

In a clinical trial involving over 200 patients, a small pea-sized telescope was implanted into one eye of AMD sufferers. The implantable telescope improves detailed sensing in the damaged eye’s peripheral vision to compensate for the lost macula. After some visual training, the implanted eye is used for detail viewing while the other eye handles most of the peripheral sensing. With reduction to the AMD blind-spot patients reported:

  • less dependency on others
  • less frustration and worry about their vision
  • less limitation in their ability to see (on average the studied patients improved three or four lines on a standard eye chart)
  • improved interaction with others and recognition of facial expression/reactions.

Natural Movement

The telescope implant moves with the eye naturally, unlike traditional magnifying devices. As a result of the surgery, it should be noted that the eye with the implant will have restricted peripheral vision. However, part of the treatment involves working with specialists to learn how to control vision between the two now different eyes. Very fine detail may still require some external magnification but overall vision improves.

As with any surgery, there is a risk for complications or further deterioration of vision. At this time, however, there are no drugs or cures for end-stage AMD. The improved ability to see detail can allow many patients to function more self-sufficiently and enjoy activities they otherwise could no longer do.


Lipshitz Implantable Telescope

Another implantable telescope was developed by Dr. Isaac Lipshitz.  This FDA-approved medical device is one of the few options for AMD patients over the age of 75 whose vision has been seriously compromised.

Based on a Galilean telescope design, it uses tiny wide-angle micro-optical lenses. The device is smaller than a pea. The surgeon removes the patient’s natural lens and inserts the telescope into the eye. The telescope enlarges images in front of the eye approximately twice their normal size. This allows the retina surrounding the macular defect to “see.” The result is a significant improvement in vision.

The mini telescope is useful for “end-stage AMD”, which means the most advanced form a macular degeneration. According to the National Eye Institute, more than 1.7 million Americans age 50+ have vision loss due to advanced AMD. This can lead to ends-stage AMD, which is visual impairment from advanced, untreatable AMD in both eyes. Fifty percent of people with advanced AMD have AMD in both eyes.

As of December 2012, you could be a candidate for the Implantable Miniature Telescope if you have stable dry macular degeneration, are over the age of 75, and have not had cataract surgery. (Note: Check with your eye doctor to see if these criteria have changed.)

Source: Vision Care Ophthalmic Technologies

Peli Implantable Telescope

This FDA approved  miniature implantable telescope can be implanted into the eye to help those who suffer vision loss from end-stage macular degeneration.  Clinical trials suggest the device can improve vision by about three and a half lines on an eye chart.

The implant is about the size of a pencil eraser and is made of two lenses within a small glass tube. Inside the eye, it works like a fixed telephoto lens.  It acts in conjunction with the cornea to project a magnified image of whatever the wearer is looking at. It takes advantage  of cells to the periphery which are not damaged. Undamaged cells outside of the diseased central part of the retina are able to detect images and send the information to the brain.

Eli Peli, a scientist at The Schepens Eye Research Institute, who has consulted for the company that developed the technology says it “provides the ability to have normal eye contact, which is a crucial part of social interaction.”

Source: Technology Review, 2010

At Natural Eye Care, you can learn about how to keep the macula healthy and information about age-related macular degeneration. We also emphasize preventing eye disease through proper nutrition and lifestyle choices.