Feedsee Medical : Implantable Telescope : Miniature surgical implant enlarges images on the retina to overcome macular degeneration
In 2006, clinical trial results of the Implantable Miniature Telescope were published in Ophthalmology. The report documents a potential new treatment model for an unmet medical need -- irreversible vision loss due to bilateral end-stage advanced macular degeneration. The investigational Implantable Miniature Telescope is designed to be a permanent solution for moderate to profound vision loss due to advanced, end-stage forms of AMD that have no current surgical or medical treatment options. Smaller than a pea, the telescope prosthetic device was implanted in one eye in an outpatient surgical procedure. In the implanted eye, the device renders enlarged central vision images over a wide area of the retina to improve central vision, while the non-operated eye provides peripheral vision for mobility and orientation.
Technology advancements that aim to restore vision
There have been numerous promising advancements in technology aiming to restore vision to the blind. Here are a few of them:
- Retinal Prostheses: These devices, also known as "bionic eyes", are designed to replace the function of the damaged photoreceptor cells in the retina. They capture images with a camera, process them into electrical signals, and send these signals to an electrode array that's implanted in the retina. The electrodes stimulate the remaining retinal cells, and the information is passed on to the optic nerve and the brain to provide a form of sight.
- Stem Cell Therapy: Scientists are exploring the use of stem cells to regenerate damaged parts of the eye. This could involve growing new retinal cells and transplanting them into the eye, with the hope that they'll integrate and restore sight.
- Gene Therapy: In certain genetic conditions that cause blindness, scientists are investigating the use of gene therapy to repair or replace the defective genes. This can potentially halt or even reverse the loss of vision.
- Optogenetics: This technique involves genetically altering certain cells in the eye to make them light-sensitive when they are not naturally. The theory is that this could bypass damaged photoreceptors and restore some level of vision.
- Neural Prostheses and Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs): These devices involve bypassing the eye and optic nerve entirely and directly stimulating the visual cortex of the brain to produce visual perceptions. This could be achieved through an implant in the brain that receives signals from a camera attached to glasses worn by the user.
- Nanotechnology: Research is underway into nanoparticles that can convert infrared light into visible light, or that can act as artificial photoreceptors.
- Drug Therapy: There are a variety of medications being explored that could slow or halt the progression of certain eye diseases, preserve existing vision, and possibly even restore lost vision.