Sharp Memorial Surgeon First in San Diego County to Restore Vision With Miniature Implant

Small than a pea, the telescope implant uses micro-optics to improve vision for people with end-stage AMD.
Smaller than a pea, the telescope implant uses micro-optics to improve vision for people like Keith with end-stage AMD.
A Sharp Memorial Hospital surgeon is the first in San Diego County to help restore the lost vision of a patient with end-stage, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) — the leading cause of blindness in older Americans — by implanting a miniature, high-tech telescope into his eye.

On Monday, April 7, 2014, Sharp-affiliated ophthalmologist Dr. John Bokosky implanted the 4-millimeter device into the right eye of Donald Keith, 85, of San Diego. The surgery took place at the Sharp Memorial Outpatient Pavilion, one of the few locations nationwide to offer the new technology.

Patients with end-stage AMD have a central blind spot or missing area in their vision that makes it difficult or impossible to see faces, read and perform everyday activities. At this time, there is no cure for this condition and no way to reverse its effects.

Once implanted into one eye, the telescope, which received Federal Drug Administration approval in 2010, projects images onto a portion of a patient's retina that is undamaged by AMD. When combined with the optics of the other eye, this allows the patient to distinguish images that have been unrecognizable or difficult to see.

To implant the device, the natural lens in Keith's right eye was removed and replaced with the tiny telescope. The implant will be virtually unnoticeable to others because it is implanted totally inside the eye and is mostly covered by the iris, the colored portion of the eye.

Over the next several months, Keith, a retired North Park dentist, will work with low-vision specialists to retrain his brain to recognize images projected through the device. With his new vision, Keith hopes to better see the faces of his two daughters, read a newspaper, use a computer and once again play competitive bridge with his friends.  

Smaller than a pea, the telescope implant is the only surgical option that improves the vision of patients suffering from advanced AMD, which affects about two million Americans. The device is an integral part of CentraSight, a new patient-care program developed by VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies.

To be considered a potential candidate for the telescope implant, patients must meet several age, vision and cornea health requirements. The device and visits associated with the treatment are Medicare-eligible.

For More Information
To find a Sharp-affiliated doctor,search for San Diego ophthalmologists or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To learn more about our vision services, contact Sharp's Vision Laser Center at 858-939-5085.