Implantable telescope surgery is a new technology available for patients with end-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD). A tiny telescope, about the size of a pea, is implanted inside one eye, behind the iris (the colored part of the eye). The implant is so small that it is hardly noticeable.
“The implantable telescope has been demonstrated to improve vision and quality of life for suitable individuals,” said Glenn Stoller, MD, Partner and Retinal Specialist at Ophthalmic Consultants of Long Island.
While it does not cure AMD, a leading cause of blindness in the elderly, it will help those who are legally blind resume reading, recognize faces and hopefully, increase their level of independence.
The first-ever implantable telescope received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010.
The implant is currently restricted to patients 75 years and older, in keeping with FDA guidelines. In general, to be considered a potential candidate for the telescope implant an ophthalmologist must first confirm that potential candidates have:
- Have irreversible, End-Stage AMD resulting from either dry or wet AMD
- Are no longer a candidate for drug treatment of your AMD
- Have not had cataract surgery in the eye in which the telescope will be implanted
- Are at least 75 years old
- Have distance vision no better than 20/160 but no worse than 20/800
About Macular Degeneration: Macular degeneration is an age-related disease that affects those 55 and older. It destroys the eye’s macula, the light-sensitive cluster of cells in the retina at the rear of the eye. People with the condition can only see fragments before them, with a large black spot in the middle of their field of vision. In its most advanced stages, the spot widens and wipes out most of the visual field. There are two forms of macular degeneration, wet and dry. The wet form is caused by blood vessels that leak in the retina, destroying the retinal and causing scar tissue. The dry form is characterized by the accumulation of debris called drusen and retinal detachment.