It may be for only a very select group right now, but the FDA has given the go ahead for surgeons to begin using a first-of-its-kind technology to help improve eyesight.
The Implantable Miniature Telescope aims to help in the end stages of incurable age-related macular degeneration by surgically implanting a device no bigger than a pea. It works by providing better central vision in one eye, while leaving the other alone for peripheral vision. In other words, patients who “before couldn’t see an entire face might now miss only the nose,” according to ophthalmic surgeon, Dr. Kathryn Colby, of Harvard and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston who helped lead the study of the implant.
While 2 million Americans suffer from macular degeneration, only those 75 and older with a certain degree of vision loss who also need a cataract removed will be able to get the implant, according to the FDA. Patients will have to undergo lots of testing to see if they are a candidate for this new device, and the FDA requires that patients and their surgeons sign a detailed ‘acceptance of risk agreement’ before surgery, meaning that they are aware of possible side effects, which include corneal damage and worsened vision.
Frankly, there seems to be side effects to everything these days, but with macular degeneration being such a leading cause of vision loss, the risks are worth the reward in my mind if this procedure can help to restore someones eyesight. Perhaps in the future we will see this technology trickle down to all Americans, and not just those in a select group.