Implants

Retinal Implant

The FDA has approved an artificial implant, called Argus 11, to restore some sight to people with retinitis pigmentosa. A special pair of glasses is outfitted with a video camera and a video processing unit that sends signals to a wireless receiver implanted in the eye. “To restore vision, signals from the camera are sent to the retina, where they travel to the optic nerve in the brain.

Implanted Telescope Improves Patient's Vision

UC Davis Medical Center surgeons implanted a telescope in the eye of a patient with end-stage AMD. The device was FDA approved in 2010. The recipient is the first of 50 individuals scheduled to receive the implant. Results were encouraging. The patient said “I can see better than ever now. Colors are more vibrant, beautiful and natural, and I can read large print with my glasses. I haven’t been able to read for the past seven years.” The implant is smaller than a pea.

 

Prosthetic Retina Helps to Restore Sight in Mice

The retina encodes light into neural signals. Sheila Nirenberg, physiologist at Weill Medical College, Cornell University, NY, has developed a code and a device that uses it to restore some sight in blind mice. By inserting a gene into a virus and injecting it into nerve cells in the retina and shining light into the eye they noted the mice were able to track moving stripes, something they could not do before receiving the encoded input. A microchip and a small video camera on a pair of glasses would be the instruments to create this prosthetic retina.

New Kind of Retinal Implant

A retinal implant, under development at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland and Stanford University in California, is much simpler in design and operation than present models. A thin silicon device, with no wires, is surgically implanted and electrically stimulates cells that are not affected by AMD. Video goggles deliver images to the eye via pulsed near infra-red light.

Medicare To Cover Intraocular Telescope

Effective October 1, 2011, outpatient facilities can obtain reimbursement for the intraocular telescopic implant for covered procedures. Medicare has granted transitional pass-through payment status and established a billing code for the device. FDA has approved it for patients with end-stage age-related macular degeneration, central vision blindness, failure to respond to AMD medications, or in patients that have a form of the disease for which no treatment is available.

 

Implantable Miniature Telescopes

The newly approved implantable miniature telescope made a difference in the vision of some end stage macular degeneration patients, according to a study reported in the September issue of the journal Ophthalmology. The two-year study conducted by Gary C. Brown, MD, of the Center for Value-Based Medicine, showed improvement in vision from 20/236 to 20/141 in 76 of the patients who received the implant. The FDA will follow these patients for five years to see long term effects.

Intraocular Implant For Drug Delivery

Dr. Balamurali Ambati, a Utah eye doctor, has invented a device to store and deliver medication to AMD patients, replacing the need for monthly injections. The implant, called iVeena, is a clear horseshoe-shaped ring that can be implanted in the area behind the eye’s lens during cataract surgery. It holds six to eight months of medication and can be refilled with new medicine through a needle and small valve, sparing the patient from ever having a direct injection. Although preclinical research is almost finished, it will take about five years for the device to be on the market.

Retinal Implant for Retinitis Pigmentosa Shows Promise

Scientists at the University of Tübingen in Germany have developed an eye implant that has had success in restoring some vision in patients suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that can result in blindness and affects about 1 in 4,000 people worldwide. While the findings are the result of a small study, they are particularly important as a "proof of concept" that demonstrates that the optic nerves can be "...re-awakened for them to be able to see again", according to Robert Maclaren, professor of Ophthalmology at Britain's Oxford University.

Cataract

Cataracts are the opaque, or milky, areas that can form in part or all of the crystaline lens of the eye. They often start with only a slight disturbance of normal vision, often going unnoticed for years, and can slowly increase in opacity until they completely interfere with vision. Some of the early effects of a cataract are a decrease in contrast sensitivity and color intensity, but eventually they also decrease visual acuity.

Retinal Implants

The International Symposium on Artificial Retinal Prosthesis (September, 2009) demonstrated various methods of implanting chips to provide vision.  A German study indicated that some patients were able to read letters eight centimeters high.  In one of the systems, a chip, implanted under the cells of the retina, converts light to electrical signals, which are sent to the retinal nerve cells.  Two other German researchers place a camera into eyeglasses, which then conveys data to the chip, which converts it to electrcal impulses that are then sent to the retinal nerves.

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