Eye telescope implant gains FDA approval

The FDA just approved a tiny implantable telescope meant to assist patients over 75 years old who suffer from end-stage macular degeneration.  In a clinical trial with over 200 patients, seventy-five percent of patients with the implant “had their vision improve from severe or profound impairment to moderate impairment.”  The manufacturer, VisionCare Opthalmic Technologies, is planning a follow-up study with these patients, along with another one involving 770 new patients.

The device replaces the eye’s natural lens and provides a magnified image (the two available versions offer 2.2x or 2.7x zoom), which is then projected onto a healthy part of the patient’s retina.  The implant can only be used in one eye, as the other eye is needed for peripheral vision.  Since the brain has to adjust to the implant’s image, patients must go through rehabilitation for the telescope to work.  The FDA warns the treatment is still risky and could even necessitate a corneal transplant.

VisionCare says each implant will cost $15,000, so start saving up.

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