Eye Health News

Vision restored in AMD patient using bionic implant

An 89-year-old woman with end-stage age-related macular degeneration received a bionic implant at the University of California Davis Eye Center. The bionic implant is a miniature telescope which is smaller than a pea and it is implanted directly into the eye. Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the United States in adults 60 years of age and older. Approximately 2 million people in the United States are affected by the advanced form of the disease. Until the development of this new technology, there was no lasting medical or surgical treatment available to treat this "dry" form of macular degeneration. The FDA approved the implant in 2010 and it works a little bit like a camera. It utilizes two miniature mirrors which form a telescope and magnifies images two to three times their normal size. The magnified image is then projected onto the healthy portions of the retina. The procedure is done as an outpatient surgery and the patient then undergoes occupational therapy to train the brain to use the device to its maximum potential. Currently the implant is available for those 75 and older and Medicare will cover the $15,250 price tag. As the FDA monitors the results of those who receive the implants, it is expected that the age limit will be relaxed.

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