For the first time in the Silicon Valley, a cornea surgeon has successfully performed the first-ever telescope implant procedure for a patient with end-stage age-related macular degeneration (end-stage AMD). The patient, a San Jose resident, received the implant in an outpatient procedure on December 5th, 2016.
“We are excited to provide this new treatment option to our end-stage AMD patients, who up until now have had no options,” says Randal Pham, M.D., cornea surgeon at Aesthetic and Refractive Surgery Medical Center in San Jose, who performed the December 5th surgery. According to Pham, “this most advanced type of AMD is a devastating disease which cannot be treated by any of our available drugs or surgical procedures.”
Pham also performed the implantation using the femtosecond laser for both cataract surgery and corneal astigmatism correction at the same time. This was the first time in the world when the combination of these types of surgeries were performed in one setting.
What is AMD?
The first-of-kind telescope implant is integral to CentraSight®, a patient care program for treating patients with end-stage AMD, the leading cause of blindness in older Americans. As many as 11 million people in the United States have some form of AMD, a progressive disease which can lead to severe vision loss. This number is expected to double to nearly 22 million by 2050.
The FDA-approved implant is the only surgical option that improves visual acuity by reducing the impact of the central vision blind spot caused by end-stage AMD. The cost of the device is covered by Medicare for patients meeting eligibility requirements.
How does the telescope implant work?
Patients with end-stage AMD have a central blind spot. This vision loss makes it difficult or impossible to see faces, read, and perform everyday activities such as watching TV, preparing meals, and self-care. Smaller than a pea, the telescope implant uses micro-optical technology to magnify images which would normally be seen in one’s “straight ahead” or central vision. The images are projected onto the healthy portion of the retina not affected by the disease, making it possible for patients to see or discern the central vision object of interest. It also may help patients in social settings as it may allow them to recognize faces and see the facial expressions of family and friends.
The treatment program is generally coordinated by retina specialists who treat macular degeneration and other back-of-the-eye disorders. The treatment program focuses on comprehensive patient care, requiring prospective patients to undergo medical, visual, and functional evaluation to determine if they may be a good candidate. A unique aspect of the evaluation is the ability to simulate, prior to surgery, what a person may expect to see once the telescope is implanted to determine if the possible improvement will meet the patient’s expectations.
“To be able to finally offer this device to our patients is quite exciting,” says Keshav Narain M.D., retinal specialist at South Bay Retina in Sunnyvale. “The telescope implant offers new hope for our patients to be able to do things we take for granted, like seeing their grandchildren or simply pouring themselves a cup of coffee.”
Post-implantation, the local patients will learn how to use their new vision in everyday activities by working with optometrist Burton Worrell of Advanced Vision Center of Optometry in San Jose, and occupational therapist Jean Niemann, who is in private practice in San Jose.
The telescope implant is not a cure for end-stage AMD. As with any medical intervention, potential risks and complications exist with the telescope implant. Possible side effects include decreased vision or vision impairing corneal swelling. The risks and benefits associated with the telescope implant are discussed in the Patient Information Booklet available at www.CentraSight.com. Patients and physicians can find more information about the telescope implant and related treatment program at www.CentraSight.com or by calling 1-877-99SIGHT.