05 Oct 2012
Surgeons have implanted a mini telescopic prosthetic in the eye of a patient with end–stage age–related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness
Atiny telescope implant, is the only medical option available that restores a portion of vision lost to the disease. UC Davis Health System’s Eye Center, in collaboration with the Society for the Blind, used the innovative procedure to eliminate blindness in a woman with end–stage age–related macular degeneration (AMD).
"Macular degeneration damages the retina and causes a blind spot in a person’s central field of vision. The telescopic implant restores vision by projecting images onto an undamaged portionoftheretina,whichmakesitpossibleforpatients to again see people’s faces and the details of objects located directly in front of them," said Mark Mannis, professor at UC Davis.
Theexactcauseofdrymaculardegeneration is unknown, but the condition develops as the eye ages. The macula is made up of millions of light–sensing cells that provide sharp, detailed central vision. It is the most sensitive part of the retina, which is located at the back of the eye.
The retina quickly turns light into electrical signals and then sends these electrical signals to the brain through the optic nerve. The brain translates the electrical signals into images. If the macula is damaged, fine points are not clear.
In May, UC Davis cornea specialists Mannis and Jennifer Li implanted the miniature telescope, which is smaller than a pea, in the left eye of 89–year–old Virginia Bane, an artist who stopped painting four years ago when AMD took away her central vision. Bane is among the first 50 individuals to receive the implant.
"I can see better than ever now," Bane said. "Colours are more vibrant, beautiful and natural, and I can read large print. I haven’t been able to read for the past seven years. I look forward to being able to paint again."
Since her surgery, Bane has been working with Society for the Blind optometrists to learn how to use her new telescopic eye.
"Virginia’s vision will keep getting better and better over time as she retrains her brain how to see. She basically uses her left eye with the telescopic implant to see details, such as using a microwave keypad and reading a book," said Richard Van Buskirk, an optometrist.
"Heruntreatedrighteyeprovidesperipheral vision, which helps with mobility, such as walking or navigating within her home. Ultimately, her brain will automatically make the shift, using the capability of each eye as needed."
Candidates for the procedure include individuals with untreatable end–stage, age–related macular degeneration (dry form) who are 75 or older and whose disease is stable but severely impairs vision. They must have adequate peripheral vision in the eye that will not receive the implant and have no other ocular diseases.