Tiny Telescope Treats Age-Related Eye Disease

Study found the implant benefited two-thirds of patients who got one

TUESDAY, Aug. 14, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. researchers are describing a surgical technique for implanting a miniature telescope in the eyes of people with end-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a potentially blinding eye disease.

This approach ensures proper placement of the telescope with minimal damage to the eye, the team report in the August issue of the journal Archives of Ophthalmology.

AMD is the leading cause of irreversible visual impairment and blindness among people aged 60 and older.

"An implantable miniature telescope can improve the vision and quality of life for patients, but surgeons must be very careful in implanting it," study lead author Dr. Kathryn Colby, director of the Joint Clinical Research Center at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, said in a prepared statement.

She and her colleagues said it's critical that surgeons don't view this device as simply a larger intraocular lens, like the kind used to replace the lens in cataract surgery.

The miniature telescope has not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A clinical trial found that, one year after receiving the device, 67 percent of the eyes of patients who received the telescope implant showed a three-line or greater improvement in best-corrected distance visual acuity, as indicated by reading an eye chart.

Improvement was noted in just 13 percent of eyes that didn't receive the telescope implant, the researchers say.

More information

The U.S. National Eye Institute has more about age-related macular degeneration.

SOURCE: Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, news release, Aug. 13, 2007
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