Fighting Blindness With Telescope Implants

A new treatment for macular degeneration involves implanting a tiny telescope in the eyes of patients.

A new technology recently approved by the FDA fights blindness by implanting a tiny telescope in the eye. VisionCare's CentraSight treatment program for end-stage age-related macular degeneration replaces the lens of a human eye with a surgically implanted telescope; the only sign of the telescope is a small bright spot on the eye.

Several months of rehabilitation and recovery are required to properly use the implant. Since receiving FDA approval in 2010, the device has become available through outpatient surgery. Once the telescope is implanted, it creates image input different from that most people are used to. One patient who received the surgery, Betty Smith, told the Orangeburg Times and Democrat's Sherryl Peters that "Right now, I see two of everything, but it’s not like double vision. Instead, I see a larger image imposed on a smaller one. My brain has to learn how to interpret that." VisionCare's product isn't the only future tech blindness therapeutic product out there: A California company is selling vision restoring glasses for retinitis pigmentosa sufferers in Europe, and the MIT Media Lab has developed a smartphone app that tests for cataracts.

[Image: VisionCare]

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