FDA Approves Telescopic Bionic Eye Implant

The FDA Tuesday announced that it had approved a telescopic eye implant that can help the visually impaired. The procedure involves removing the lens of the eye completely and replacing it with the now FDA-approved implant, which is capable of magnifying things by 2.2-2.7 times.

The implant is aimed at elderly people (over the age of 75) with macular degeneration, a condition that results in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field because of retinal damage. Created by VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies, the telescope projects images in your field of view onto healthy areas of your central retina outside of the degenerated macula. The image is enlarged, which reduces the effect the blind spot has on central vision.

While VisionCare promises that people with the implant will be able to move their eye naturally, they do warn that peripheral vision on that side will be affected. It's for this reason that a patient can't have the telescope implanted into both eyes. The FDA also said that patients will need to undergo rehab to get used to using their new bionic eye in tandem with their untreated eye. There's also the possibility that because of the size of the device, patients may need a corneal transplant.

Clinical trials involving 219 patients resulted in vision improvement (from severe or profound impairment to moderate impairment) for 75 percent of the participants.

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Jane McEntegart works in marketing communications at Intel and was previously Manager of Content Marketing at ASUS North America. Before that, she worked for more than seven years at Tom's Guide and Tom's Hardware, holding such roles as Contributing Editor and Senior News Editor and writing about everything from smartphones to tablets and games consoles.