Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over 55. For those with end stage disease, there has been virtually no chance of seeing what is directly in front of them again. But a new device, an implantable telescope, is changing that.
"This I could read. To get this down here I would have a magnifying glass with it about here and the paper here," said Joann Zorn. Joann Zorn has a critical part of her vision back. "Now I can read it here," said Joann. And it's all thanks to a brand new twinkle in her eye. The light is reflecting off a tiny telescope implanted in her left eye. It has brought back the central vision she lost to macular degeneration. Dr. Stephen Lane of Associated Eye Care explains. "The area that allows for central vision to watch TV, read a book, drive a car is called the macula when that macula is destroyed by an age related process there's essentially a hole in people's vision," said Dr. Stephen Lane.
Here is what most of us see, and this is what those with macular degeneration see. "With the blind spot in both sides, both eyes, I would really have to get up close to see someone's face," said Joann. When implanted, the telescope, by CentraSight, magnifies central vision tremendously, so while there is still a blind spot, patients see much more of what is directly ahead of them. It does take months of rehabilitation to learn to use each eye differently. "Non-telescope eye basically sees things in the periphery and the telescope eye sees things centrally," said Dr. Lane. Joann has the hang of it. The gal who once broke her kneecap because she couldn't see the stairs now has a spring it her step. "See I can walk along and do this and this," said Joann. All thanks to that new twinkle in her eye. "I'm a new kid!" said Joann.
Dr. Lane said patients with this device cannot drive. Currently, it is for people with macular degeneration in both eyes who have not had previous cataract surgery. While the device itself costs $15,000 alone, not including the cost of surgery and rehabilitation, Dr. Lane said it is covered by Medicare.
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