Tiny telescope implant combats blindness
By Mike Hanlon
December 2, 2003
Wednesday December 3, 2003 A micro-sized telescopic eye implant is being developed to aid those affected by dysfunction of the macula - a specialized area of the retina that is responsible for the central part of our vision. IMT (Implantable Miniature Telescope) has a tiny wide-angle lens (about the size of a pea) that projects a magnified image onto the retina to reduce the blind spot caused by macular degeneration and improve the ability to see previously unrecognisable images.
Invented by Dr. Isaac Lipshitz, the IMT which is currently undergoing clinical investigation in Europe, the U.S., and elsewhere, with approximately 300 people so far having been implanted with the device.
The IMT is implanted behind the iris in one eye during a brief outpatient surgical procedure. The other eye is left without an implant so that peripheral vision is retained for safe mobility and navigation and patients are how to use the implant. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) - the retinal disorder which the device is designed to combat - effects central vision and other visual activities like reading, recognizing faces, and watching television.
According to Visioncare IMT, AMD affects over 15 million Americans to some degree with varying degrees of central vision loss from mild to severe.
In Australia, researchers at the University of Newcastle are also looking at ways that new technology can be applied to restore sight to the blind. This system uses a tiny electronic circuit to deliver controlled, electronic stimulation to the surviving nerve cells of the retina in patients suffering from degenerative blindness - a process which it is hoped will replace some of the physiological events that take place on a normal, healthy retina.