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New Treatment Available for End-stage Macular Degeneration
By Erica A. Hacker, O.D.

Implantable telescopic lens

Imagine the heartbreak for someone who gradually loses the ability to see her grandchildren, husband and the people who mean the most to her. Now imagine her joy when she can see them again. Thanks to a groundbreaking new treatment program, this dream can now be a reality for patients with end-stage age related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in older Americans.

The comprehensive treatment program has been designed by CentraSight and is the only treatment program available in the United States that uses an FDA approved implantable telescopic lens. In the Pittsburgh area, the treatment program is available through a multidisciplinary team including Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh, Dr. Viki Christopoulos and Dr. Pamela Rath.

More than 15 million Americans are affected by some form of macular degeneration, which attacks the macula of the eye, where one's sharpest central vision occurs. Although it does not cause complete blindness, patients with end-stage AMD have a central blind spot, or missing area, in their vision. 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.

The CentraSight treatment program uses a tiny telescope that is implanted inside the eye. Smaller than a pea, the telescope implant magnifies objects that would normally be seen in one's "straight ahead" vision. This image is projected onto the healthy retina in the back of the eye not affected by the disease.

Potential patients undergo medical and vision evaluations to determine whether they may be a good candidate. After an eye surgeon implants the telescope in an outpatient procedure, the patient then works with vision specialists at Blind & Vision Rehab to learn how to use their new vision in their everyday activities.

The telescope implant is not a cure. Patients must meet age and cornea health requirements to be considered a good candidate.

For more information on the telescope implant and who qualifies for the treatment, contact Dr. Erica Hacker, optometrist in the Low Vision Department at Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh, at (412) 368-4400. Additional details are available at www.bvrspittsburgh.org/ telescope-implant.

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