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FDA-Approved Telescope Implant Restores Sight To Those With Macular Degeneration

WILMINGTON, N.C., Jan. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Imagine the heartbreak for someone who gradually loses the ability to see her grandchildren, husband and the people who mean the most to her. Now imagine her joy when she can see them again. Thanks to a groundbreaking new treatment program called CentraSight, this dream can now be a reality for patients around the country with end-stage age related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in older Americans.

Smaller than a pea, the telescope is implanted in one eye in an outpatient surgical procedure. In the implanted eye, the device renders enlarged central vision images over a wide area of the retina to improve central vision, while the non-operated eye provides peripheral vision for mobility and orientation.

"Patients living with end-stage macular degeneration have extreme difficulty performing simple, everyday tasks. Both eyes have central visual loss, so recognizing faces of friends and family, performing activities of daily living, and safely crossing the street becomes impossible. This can have a debilitating effect, both physically and psychologically," said Edward Paul, O.D., Ph.D., a low vision specialist and CentraSight team leader for North Carolina. "For many, this device has made a marked improvement in their lives," said Dr. Paul.  "We are very encouraged that Medicare has granted access for this new treatment option to eligible patients in the State of North Carolina."

Results from the two U.S. clinical trials, conducted at 28 leading ophthalmic centers, have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals including Ophthalmology, American Journal of Ophthalmology, and Archives of Ophthalmology. Most recently, in the September 2011 issue of  Ophthalmology, a study reports the intraocular telescope improves quality of life and is cost effective.

For patients ineligible for the implanted telescope, an external telescope in the same power can be mounted in special eyeglasses.

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