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Is a telescopic implant the answer for AMD?

sunset on lake
Eye implant diagram
The implantable telescope technology reduces the impact of the central vision blind spot from advanced macular degeneration. The telescope implant projects the objects the patient is looking at on to the healthy area of the light-sensing retina undamaged by the disease. — UCDavis

My mother’s biggest lament with her macular degeneration is not so much that she cannot see, but that she cannot see enough to do what she loves.

My mother is a quilter. A lifelong seamstress, she turned to quilting in her 60s.  After mastering traditional techniques, such as in the quilt to the left, turned to mostly experimental types of quilting and in her mid-80s was on the road to discovering fiber art. That road however, came to a dead end when her macular degeneration progressed stealthily and quickly. Her eye doctors assured her she would never go completely blind.

This was little comfort when she could no longer see to pick out material, thread needles, cut her intricate shapes and put everything together at the machine and by hand.

So reading about UC-Davis’ telescopic implant was encouraging on two fronts. One, it was approved by the FDA in 2010 as “the only medical/surgical option available that restores a portion of vision lost to the disease,” and two, that Virginia Bane, the artist depicted in the press release is 89. So, for those who think it’s too late, it just may not be.

The telescope is implanted behind the iris and takes over and transmits images to the healthy area of the retina, which in turn transmits them to the brain where they are interpreted. This technology, while not without risks, is letting people like my mother see again.

Of course, there are eligibility requirements and not everyone is a candidate. Because my mother has had cataract surgery in both eyes, this option is not for her according to CentraSight.com, a website about the procedure,

So while our search continues, this news is gratifying for those who do meet the criteria for this implant. In the meantime, we keep searching.

 

 

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