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Restoring Vision for Age Related Macular Degeneration

by Kimberly Johnson
Restoring Vision for Age Related Macular Degeneration

Telescope Implant Restores Vision in Seniors with Age-Related Macular Degeneration

In 2012, lifelong Branford, CT resident Rosalie Cappetta, 72, began to notice that her vision wasn’t as sharp as it used to be. Her central vision had blurred and darkened, making it difficult to cook, recognize people and drive. After seeing an ophthalmologist, she was diagnosed with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is a rapidly progressing form of AMD caused by leaking blood vessels that damage and scar the macula. Restoring Vision for Age Related Macular Degeneration
For more than two years, Rosalie received a common treatment for AMD — eye injections — but the treatment did not prevent her from progressing to the most severe form of AMD, end-stage AMD. Like many seniors, Rosalie found it difficult to rely on family and friends to help her run errands and manage the tasks of daily living, like paying bills. A fantastic cook and baker, she used only memorized recipes because she couldn’t read her cook books and she kept the oven set at 350 degrees, which is fairly limiting.
Rosalie recalls of her straight-ahead vision, “I would have to stand up very close to a person to see a face, to see who I was talking to. I could see off to the sides but not straight ahead.” However, because she’s known for being resourceful, Rosalie conducted online research to educate herself about possible treatments for end-state AMD, which is how she discovered the CentraSight treatment program and found a provider near her home. After consulting with an ophthalmologist, corneal surgeon and a low vision occupational therapist, Rosalie decided to move forward with CentraSight program, which includes the telescope implant. The size of a pea, the telescope implant is proven to restore vision and improve quality of life in older adults aged 65 and older. FDA approved, the device is also Medicare eligible. Restoring Vision for Age Related Macular Degeneration

The Device

The telescope implant is exactly what it calls itself: a tiny telescope implanted directly into the eye. The goal of the telescope is to improve central vision in patients with End-Stage AMD. The eye with the implant becomes the central vision recipient, while the non-implanted eye focuses on the periphery vision. Even though the telescope is implanted surgically, the procedure is not taxing or stressful on the patient. The patient remains awake for the approximately two-hour procedure and then is released from the out-patient surgery center or hospital almost immediately after the surgery’s completion. The telescope is not a cure for AMD, but a transformative way to give central sight back to those otherwise being faced with almost a complete loss of vision. Restoring Vision for Age Related Macular Degeneration

The Patients

To date, the FDA has approved the device for End-Stage AMD patients (wet or dry) who are 65 years or older and meet specific eye health criteria, including no previous corneal (cataract) surgery. In addition to meeting specific physical requirements, telescope implant candidates must also demonstrate a willingness to learn to use their new vision, which is simulated before surgery with a handheld telescope. The most successful users work hard at personally designed exercises that teach them how to see while stationary and in motion.
Given the above criteria, many seniors have been disappointed that this procedure is not an option for them due to use of an intraocular lens or previous cataract or other type of eye surgery. But that roadblock may be removed in the future. CentraSight just announced there is a new study just initiated to assess the safety and effectiveness of the telescope for those with prior eye surgeries. Older adults interested in learning more about participating in the study can ask their ophthalmologist for more information or visit https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03011554?term=NCT03011554&rank=1

Macular Degeneration and Seniors

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of permanent vision loss in Americans aged 60 and older, affecting an estimated 15 million people.[i] Of those, 2 million Americans are living with End-Stage AMD[ii] and that number will increase as the Baby Boomer cohort ages.1 End-Stage macular degeneration cannot be corrected by any other treatment including glasses, vitamins, drugs or cataract surgery and is associated with increased stress and depression as vision diminishes.[iii] It’s been more than a year since Rosalie Cappetta received the telescope implant. Today, she can read recipes, pay her bills and, most importantly, see the faces or loved ones and friends. Restoring Vision for Age Related Macular Degeneration
[i] What is AMD? Macular Degeneration Partnership. Accessed on Nov 3, 2016 at http://www.amd.org/what-is-macular-degeneration/
[ii] Vision Problems in the United States. Prevent Blindness America. Accessed on November 3, 2016 at http://www.visionproblemsus.org/amd/amd-map.html
[iii] Bennion, AE, Shaw, RL, Gibson, JM “What do we know about the experience of age related macular degeneration? A systematic review and meta-synthesis of qualitative research?” Social Science & Medicine. 75 (2012) 976-985.

Restoring Vision for Age Related Macular Degeneration

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