Adventist News

Adventist Hospital Uses Tiny Telescope to Help Man See Again

LLU Medical Center first in region to use procedure for AMD victims

BY HERBERT ATIENZA, Loma Linda University Medical Center, reporting from Loma Linda, California

After two decades of gradually losing his vision, Roy Kennedy figured he had little to lose by agreeing to take part in a new procedure at Loma Linda University Medical Center that implants a tiny telescope in his eye to let him see again.

A few weeks after having the miniature telescope implanted in his right eye, the 77-year old Moreno Valley, Calif. resident, who had suffered from end-stage age-related macular degeneration (also known as AMD), has no regrets.

<STRONG>SEEING ANEW: </strong>Roy Kennedy, 77, of Moreno Valley, Calif., works with Emily Rice, occupational therapist at Loma Linda University Medical Center, on reading exercises to help him get used to a new miniature telescope that was implanted into his eye. [LLUMC photo]“It’s the best thing I’ve done; it has allowed me to come out of a shell I’ve created for myself because of my lack of eyesight,” said Kennedy, a retired educator from Banning School District, whose surgery was performed by renowned LLUMC eye surgeon Dr. Howard Gimbel.

Loma Linda University Medical Center is the first hospital in California’s Inland Empire to implant the telescope implant for patients with AMD, the leading cause of blindness in older Americans. The FDA-approved telescope implant is the main feature of CentraSight, a new patient care program for treating patients with AMD. The first-of-its-kind telescope implant is believed to be the only surgical option that improves vision by reducing the impact of the central vision blind spot caused by AMD. The cost for the telescope implant and visits associated with the treatment are Medicare eligible.

Patients with AMD suffer from a central blind spot, meaning they have difficulty seeing when they look “straight ahead.” Patients often have difficulty or find it impossible to recognize faces, read the newspapers, or watch TV.

The telescope implant, which is slightly smaller than a pea, uses micro-optical technology to magnify images that can be seen by central vision. The images are projected onto the healthy portion of the retina not affected by the disease.

“For people who have severe difficulty seeing anything that they are looking at directly, as when reading, any improvement in their eyesight makes a big difference in their quality of life,” Gimbel said.

He said the procedure is not for everyone, and there are strict criteria for candidates, including that patients must not have had cataract surgery.

Dr. Michael Rauser, vice-chair and associate residency program director of the Loma Linda University Department of Ophthalmology, said the addition of the implantable miniature telescope as a treatment for patients with stable, advanced age-related macular degeneration, is an important new therapy for patients suffering from end-stage macular degeneration.

“Loma Linda University Medical Center Department of Ophthalmology strives to be a Center of Excellence for the Inland Empire, and the local availability of the implantable miniature telescope is another example of this philosophy,” Rauser said. “Instead of a standard intraocular lens, a miniature telescope is inserted into the eye after cataract removal. This provides improved distance visual acuity, while minimizing the loss of peripheral vision that is associated with the use of external telescopes.”

Since the procedure, Kennedy worked with therapists at Loma Linda University Medical Center, who are especially trained to help low-vision patients, to help get used to going about his daily life with the telescope implant. He said he’s grateful for the little things that people with good vision often take for granted.

“Before, when I went to the grocery store, all I did was push the cart,” he said. “Now, I can go to the store [and] pick out the items that I like.”


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