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IMT improves quality of life for appropriate candidates

IMT telescope

Illustration of the implantable minature telescope (IMT) inserted into the affected eye through the cornea and placed behind the iris. Images seen through the tiny telescope are reflected on the part of the macula that has not yet been affected by AMD.


IMT compared to size of fingertip

Implantable miniature telescope

Emory Eye Center was the first center in Georgia to offer a new technology, an implantable miniature telescope (IMT), proven to help the vision of some patients with end-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The device was FDA approved in July 2010; Emory participated in the clinical trials that helped gain FDA approval. End-stage AMD can cause a loss of central vision, which is not helped by corrective lenses, pharmacotherapy or surgery. Currently, there is no cure for end-stage AMD. At Emory, three patients have been through the surgery and subsequent rehabilitation.

Patients with end-stage macular degeneration affecting both eyes may be candidates for implantable telescope through the CentraSightâ„¢ treatment program, developed by VisionCare â„¢, Inc.

Implantation in one eye is followed by rehabilitation training to learn how to effectively use the device. Rigorous screening is required to ensure good candidacy for the implant.

Eye Center cornea surgeon John Kim implants the IMT in patients who are candidates. "This new opportunity for those patients with end-stage AMD is exciting," says Kim. "Before now, there were no real options to improve their quality of life. With this surgery and subsequent therapy, the implantable miniature telescope may provide them with the ability to do those everyday thing.

Evaluation process

Emory Eye's team of specialists evaluate possible patients for device and study eligibility. Emory retina specialist Chris Bergstrom medically evaluates potential candidates. Low Vision expert Susan Primo, together with an occupational therapist, evaluates patients' visual and functional characteristics, as well as their responsiveness to physical therapy before final approval. Not every patient with end-stage AMD is a candidate for the implant. Those patients who have had cataract surgery in the potential IMT eye are not eligible.

"Emory Eye Center is pleased to be the first center in Georgia to offer this new technology for those with end-stage AMD," says Emory Eye Center Director Timothy W. Olsen. "Our team of retina specialists, surgeons, and low vision professionals will work together to help each patient reach his or her best outcome."

The surgery

The IMT is inserted into the affected eye through the cornea and placed behind the iris. Images seen through the tiny telescope are reflected on the part of the macula that has not yet been affected by AMD. Only one eye is implanted; the other eye serves to provide the patient with needed peripheral vision. Over time, the two eyes learn to work together.

Post-implantation care

There is a long-term commitment of several months to effectively learn how to use the IMT. Patients will receive several months of visual rehabilitation training and coordination of low vision care by the vision rehabilitation team within the Ned S. Witkin Vision Rehabilitation Service at Emory Eye Center. Most patients will still need a form of magnification and low vision devices to match specific functional goals. To determine candidacy for the IMT, call VisionCare's toll-free number at: 1-877-99-SIGHT (1-877-997-4448)

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