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Friday / June 24.
HomeminewsImplantable Telescope Gives Vision

Implantable Telescope Gives Vision

Implantable telescope technology that enables people with end stage macular degeneration to see has been approved for sale by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States.

The third-generation telescope implant, developed by Dr. Isaac Lipshitz of privately owned VisionCare in California, also holds a CE mark and Israel Ministry of Health approval for distribution and sale.

Rob Cummins, Research and Policy Manager with the Macular Degeneration Foundation – Australia says the device, which has shown “encouraging results” in studies, has a “role for some people with substantial vision loss that is uncorrectable with glasses or any other treatment”.

However, he said, the implant requires “very, very careful patient selection and, following the procedure, a lengthy process of training that patients can find difficult”. That’s because the implant requires one eye to see peripherally and the other centrally before passing the information on to the brain. Additionally, as patients are generally elderly it can be harder for them to learn new behaviours.

According to the FDA, “90 per cent of patients achieved at least a two-line gain in either their distance or best-corrected visual acuity, and 75 per cent of patients improved their level of vision from severe or profound impairment to moderate impairment

Wide-angle Micro-optics

The implantable telescope technology platform is based on wide-angle microoptics that, in combination with the optics of the cornea, create a telephoto system that magnifies objects in view.

The telescope implant is surgically placed in the capsular bag after removal of the eye’s lens. Implantation inside the eye allows the patient to see using natural eye movements in both stationary and dynamic environments.

The implantable telescope technology platform incorporates wide-angle microoptical lenses in a Galilean telescope design. Based on this proprietary technology, VisionCare’s lead product along with the cornea, enlarges images in front of the eye approximately 2.2 or 2.7 times their normal size (depending on the model used). The magnification allows central images to be projected onto healthy perimacular areas of the retina instead of the macula alone, where breakdown of photoreceptors and loss of vision has occurred. This helps reduce the ‘blind spot’ and allows the patient to distinguish and discern images that may have been unrecognisable or difficult to see.

Meaningful Gains

Results from two U.S. clinical trials, conducted at 28 leading ophthalmic centers, showed that patients achieved clinically meaningful gains in visual acuity and quality of life with the telescope implant.

According to the FDA, “90 per cent of patients achieved at least a two-line gain in either their distance or best-corrected visual acuity, and 75 per cent of patients improved their level of vision from severe or profound impairment to moderate impairment”.

The implant is yet to be registered for sale in Australia, however Mr. Cummins said he is hopeful that a company will take it on. “We welcome any technology that assists people with AMD, even if it has a small application,” he said. In Australia, the transplant is likely to cost around AUD$12,000.

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