Retinal Implants Can Help to Restore Some Vision

Retinal Implants Can Help to Restore Some Vision

Posted on Oct.15, 2012, under Innovations for Visually Impaired

While there is no medical treatment or cure to reverse advanced macular degeneration, there are several different companies that are developing retinal implants that help to restore some of the vision that is lost due to the degeneration or death of photoreceptor cells. The technology for these implants vary and each implant is designed to work differently. The macular degeneration telescope, developed by CentraSight has been in research for several years at 28 eye centers across the United States. The small device is implanted in one eye and functions as a telescope, magnifying one’s vision 2.2 to 2.7 times.

Much like cataract surgery, the actual procedure is done as an outpatient surgery and takes about one hour. The surgery is done by an ophthalmologist who is a corneal/cataract surgeon who has been specially trained in implanting the telescopic device. Only one eye is implanted with the telescope. However this is where the similarity to cataract surgery ends. Those who are candidates for the implant or telescope must go through four different steps to ensure a successful outcome. They are diagnosis, screening, implanting, and training.

Once a confirmed diagnosis is made of advanced macular degeneration in both eyes, a low vision specialist performs a simulation with external telescopes. At this time the patient and the low vision specialist get an idea of how the patient’s vision will improve with the telescope and the patient better understands how the implant requires an adjustment to a new way of seeing. The screening process allows the patient to better grasp how their vision will improve with the implanted telescope and to manage their expectations. If the patient meets the candidate requirements and if he/she and the low vision specialist agree that the telescope offers an improvement in vision, there is still another important consideration. The patient needs to understand and agree to low vision rehab after the implant procedure to help the patient use their new vision effectively. The low vision specialist will also help the patient maximize their new usable vision by combining it with other low vision aids, magnifiers and glasses.

Unlike those who have cataract surgery and find that their cloudy, blurry vision is suddenly clear after surgery, those who have the macular degeneration implant need to be trained in how to “see” with this new device. The eye with the implant is used for straight ahead vision, while the the other eye is used for peripheral or side vision. Training by a low vision specialist is needed to adjust to using the telescopic device.

Find out what kind of vision improvement was found in the research studies and how this macular degeneration implant impacted patient’s quality of life:

Macular Degeneration Implant

Better Health for Better Vision

Leslie Degner, RN, BSN