First Patient in Sandhills Region Receives Telescope Implant for Macular Degeneration

October 9th, 2015 by Carolina Eye Associates

Arghavan Almony, M.D. John French, M.D. Gregory Mincey, M.D.For the first time in the Sandhills region, surgeons at Carolina Eye Associates have successfully performed a telescope implant procedure for a patient with end-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most advanced form of the disease and a leading cause of blindness in older Americans.

The telescope implant is FDA approved for patients age 65 and older and is the only medical/surgical option available that restores a portion of vision lost to the disease.

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. According to Carolina Eye retina specialist, Arghavan Almony, M.D., “the ability to be able to offer these patients the opportunity to help them resume their favorite activities and independence is truly remarkable.”

Smaller than a pea, the telescope implant uses micro-optical technology to magnify images which would normally be seen in one’s “straight ahead” or central vision. The images, magnified 2.7 times, are projected onto the healthy portion of the retina not affected by the disease, making it possible for patients to see or discern the central vision image that may have been unrecognizable prior to surgery.

The telescope implant has been demonstrated in clinical trials to improve quality of life by improving patients’ vision so they can see the things that are important to them, increase their independence, and re-engage in everyday activities.  It also may help patients in social settings as it may allow them to recognize faces and see the facial expressions of family and friends.

Carolina Eye cornea surgeon John French, M.D. performed the implant surgery in Southern Pines.  “This surgery is an exciting opportunity for patients with end-stage AMD” said Dr. French. “This is a devastating disease with historically marginal treatment options.”

The CentraSight treatment program is coordinated by the retina specialists at Carolina Eye who treat macular degeneration and other retinal (back-of-the-eye) disorders. The treatment program focuses on comprehensive patient care, requiring prospective patients to undergo medical, visual, and functional evaluations to determine if they are a good candidate. A unique aspect of the evaluation is the ability to simulate, prior to surgery, what a person may expect to see once the telescope is implanted. The simulator helps patients determine if the improvement meets their expectations.

Candidates for the procedure include individuals with untreatable advanced end-stage age-related macular degeneration who are 65 or older and whose disease is stable but severely impairs vision. They must have loss of central vision in both eyes and cannot have had previous cataract surgery in either eye.

“While the telescope implant doesn’t cure AMD, it can improve the quality of life in patients with AMD. With this surgery and subsequent therapy, the implantable miniature telescope may provide them with the ability to do those everyday things we all take for granted such as seeing the faces of family members.” says Gregory Mincey, M.D., retinal specialist at Carolina Eye Associates.

The telescope procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. After the surgery, the patient will learn how to use their new vision in everyday activities by working with Andrew Apple O.D., an optometrist with Carolina Eye and occupational therapists at FirstHealth Outpatient Rehab.

The telescope implant is not a cure for end-stage AMD. As with any medical intervention, potential risks and complications exist with the telescope implant. Possible side effects include decreased vision or vision impairing corneal swelling.

Established in 1977, Carolina Eye Associates is one of the largest eye care facilities in the Southeast.  The practice provides a full range of quality medical and surgical eye care services.  For appointment inquires or for more information on the implantable miniature telescope and the services offered by Carolina Eye, call (910) 295-2100.


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