Implantable device to help patients with macular degeneration

Implantable device to help patients with macular degeneration
Published: Jul. 6, 2017 at 4:52 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 6, 2017 at 6:52 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - An eye surgery center in Louisville performed the first surgery in the region to help those suffering from macular degeneration.

The surgery is not a cure, but it is an option for those who have permanently lost their vision.

"It looks like science fictions. But now in a population where there hasn't been hope we can offer something," Dr. Andrew Steele said.

Bennett & Bloom Eye Centers performed the IMT operation. IMT stands for Implantable Miniature Telescope, a device which is placed in a patient's eye and enlarges images for those who have already permanently lost central vision.

Macular degeneration affects more than 15 million Americans, like Dorothy Long, 90.

"This is like a new beginning for me," Long said.

Long said her vision had progressively worsened. She said she sees a black blinding spot that has made her legally blind.

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"I can't pick up a recipe to cook anything so that's one reason that family has helped with my food," Long said.

Long is excited that the procedure could bring her some independence.

Doctors placed the implant in Long's left eye on Thursday.

The miniature telescope widens the image behind the blind spot in her eye, leaving the other eye to fill in peripheral vision.

"It can really be a game changer for people with bad macular degeneration," Dr. Lawrence Tenkman said.

Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of loss of central vision in those over the age of 65.

IMT surgery only helps those with a dry form of the disease who have permanently lost central vision.

Tenkman said occupational therapy is necessary to train patients on the new way of seeing. Long's doctors said it could take several weeks until she fully recovers.

Long said it's a chance she is willing to take.

"You don't ever get over missing being able to see anything you want to see," Long said.

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