Monday, April 6, 2009

The Bionic Eye

Well not actually a Bionic Eye but as close to it as possible.

All of my life my mother has suffered with Dry Macular Degeneration. An eye disease that normally begins to effect most people in their early to late 50's happened to her right after she had me in her late 20's. The disease effects the part of the eye called the macula which is what helps you to see things clearly. When it begins to deteriorate the best way to describe what happens is that you start seeing spots in front of your eyes. Actually as the cells die dark spots form in your field of vision which gradually over time begin to come together until you go completely blind.

Now there are two major forms of the disease one is Wet and the other Dry. Current Ophthalmology trends have been able to slow the progression of the disease in those with the Wet version through different medical procedures. Those with the Dry condition do not have much to look forward to in a treatment that could slow the progression.

Now that we have heard the bad let's have some good.

Towards the end of March the FDA advisory council approved an implant that could give many thousands of people with end stage Macular Degeneration, including my mother, the hope of getting some vision back. What is it that will help these people to get some sight back? An implantable telescope for the eye. What the implant would do is to give recipients back "...about three and a half lines on an eye chart." This could considerably improve the quality of life for many individuals that suffer from this disease. For myself and my mother this could be an opportunity for her to be independent again. Something that causes undo stress on family members that have always been able to do things for themselves who now have to rely on others for assistance with normal everyday activities.

VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies were the developers of the implant that is about the size of a pencil eraser. It works like a telescope to help the recipient to focus on objects. The telescope is implanted into one eye only so that the other is used for its peripheral vision. With the hopeful FDA full approval the telescope could be out on the market by the end of this year.

Image provided by: VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies

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