New Tool Helps Patients With Macular Degeneration

By: Rachel Depompa, NBC News Email
By: Rachel Depompa, NBC News Email

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the United States; however, a new tool is helping patients see again.

Macular degeneration robs patients of vision from the middle of the eye, robbing patients of their independence. A Virginia eye specialist, Dr. William Benson, has discovered a tool that has shown encouraging results.

It's a miniature telescope, surgically implanted into the eye. Dr. Benson said, "If you hold up your finger, it's actually smaller than your fingertip and the entire telescope will fit right at the tip of your finger."

The FDA-approved device magnifies the area that is blocked and projects it onto the healthy part of a patient's retina. "Patients can use that healthy rim of retina to develop functional vision. and see things they couldn't see in the past," said Dr. Benson.

He added the telescope is not a "quick fix" and requires intense rehabilitation to retrain the brain. The surgery does put patients at risk for side effects like corneal damage and worsened vision.

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