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Tiny Eye Telescope Brings Back A World Of Sight

 
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The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new treatment that could help millions of older adults who are nearly blinded by macular degeneration. It’s a miniature telescope implanted directly into the eye that magnifies images to more than twice their size.

Findings from the clinical trials show that the telescope does improve vision for the majority of patients. Still, there are some concerns about corneal damage, since the telescope is relatively large inside the eye. And the population who might benefit from the new device is somewhat limited. The treatment doesn't work for those who have had cataract surgery. And for those who catch the disease early on, there may be better options.

But for 80-year-old Marian Orr, the implanted telescope was just what she needed. Orr has a big family: five children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. That means lots of graduations, weddings and school events. In other words, lots to see. So when Orr's vision began to decline in her mid 70s, she got worried. Both her father and uncle went blind in their 60s, and she knew macular degeneration was often inherited.

Orr says her sight gradually diminished. It got to the point "where I couldn't see. If I looked at you straight on, I couldn't see your face, could only see your head," she says. "I couldn't see the eyes and the nose. I could just see the round head that was all, sort of like a halo was all over it."

This blurred vision is pretty typical of macular degeneration.

Orr couldn't see things in a store. Her daughter took her grocery shopping. Orr couldn't identify pots, pans and dishes in her kitchen. And the outdoors became an unfamiliar, startling place.

Testing The Tiny Telescope

So when Orr's cousin read about an experimental treatment for macular degeneration, Orr quickly got in touch with one of the researchers, had some basic tests, and before she knew it, she was one of more than 200 patients to have an experimental miniature telescope implanted in her eye.

Dr. Kathryn A. Colby, ophthalmic surgeon at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston and assistant professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, calls the pea-sized technology a true "breakthrough" that could help millions of patients who, until now, have had no treatment options. Colby was one of the principal investigators in the clinical trials of the miniature telescopes. They were conducted at 28 leading ophthalmic centers and included 219 patients with end-stage, age-related macular degeneration. She was not Orr's doctor. .......http://www.google.com/ig?refresh=1#max124

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