Procedure fights symptoms of macular degeneration with tiny telescope

Procedure fights symptoms of macular degeneration with tiny telescope

Thirteen years ago, 78-year-old Sarah Scot developed dry, age-related macular degeneration. The condition is like a black hole that robs vision from the center of the eye.

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on July 10, 2013 at 6:54 PM

DALLAS -- Books-on-tape are the only way 78-year-old Sarah Scott is able to enjoy reading.

Thirteen years ago, she developed dry, age-related macular degeneration. The condition is like a black hole that robs vision from the center of the eye.

"Everything is distorted," Scott explained. "I used to wake up every morning and hope that it's going to be get better. But it never was, and in fact, it gets dimmer. The color gets darker and darker. And so most of the time, I'm walking in the dark."

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. According to the National Eye Institute, more than 1.75-million people are afflicted by macular degeneration.

Until now, the best treatment was vitamins and minerals -- therapy that slows the disease in a small number of patients.

In September, Sarah became the first in North Texas to receive a surgically-implanted miniature telescope to help her see again.

"The surgery or the telescope doesn't do anything for the macular degeneration," said Arlington cornea specialist Dr. Aaleya Koreishi, "but it does help focus light onto parts of the retina that aren't as affected, or aren't as involved, as the macular degeneration to help vision."

Smaller than a pea, Koreishi said the FDA-approved device is implanted in only one eye during regular cataract surgery.

"It's magnifying images, and that's their focusing eye," Dr. Koreishi said. "Their other eye they have for peripheral vision."

The tiny telescope isn't a cure. Patients who qualify for it must be 75 or older, have not had cataract surgery, and have advanced macular degeneration.

Koreishi has implanted four devices, so far.

Sarah Scott had to be trained to see through the telescope in her left eye. Not long ago, she went to the movies for the first time in a decade.

"I have quality of life with my telescope when I can watch a movie," Scott said. "I can look to see the TV. The TV is three times the size!"

And while she can't read yet, for Sarah Scott, the tiny telescope has brought many of the joyful parts of life back into focus.

To learn more about the procedure, visit CentraSight.com.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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