FDA Approves Implantable Telescope for the Eye

eye_macroThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first implantable eye telescope to improve vision in patients with end-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness in the U.S. The telescope, developed by VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies, is designed to enlarge images and project them onto healthier parts of the patient’s retina to compensate for blind spots. AMD gradually destroys a patient’s central vision.

Results from two clinical trials of the Implantable Miniature Telescope were conducted at 28 leading ophthalmic centers in the U.S. In the pivotal trial, patients reported clinically significant improvements in visual acuity and quality of life. The miniature telescope has a diameter of 3.6 millimeters. The device is a critical part of CentraSight, a treatment program for end-stage AMD.

Two weeks ago, we reported on MacuCLEAR, a Texas-based company developing an ophthalmic solution to stop the progression of AMD. MacuCLEAR was one of over 70 companies presenting at the OneMedForum New York 2010 conference, which took place June 29-30. For more details on the conference, please visit http://www.onemedplace.com/forum.

Other companies developing treatments for AMD include the following:

NeoVista is developing technology to deliver a dose of radiation to the retina in patients with the wet form of AMD.

Second Sight, based in California, is working on a retinal implant that stimulates the retina using electrodes. The electrodes are designed to produce a pattern of light and dark spots that the patient can learn to interpret into images.

Optobionics is developing an implantable artificial retina designed to stimulate damaged retinal cells and induce them to send visual signals to the brain.

Luke Timmerman of XConomy reported in January that Acucela was poised for growth as ACU-4429, its drug candidate for AMD, headed into a key clinical trial. ACU-4429 is a once-a-day pill to treat dry AMD.

The approval of VisionCare’s implantable telescope marks an exciting development in the treatment of macular degeneration. What are some other interesting treatments in the pipeline for this widespread eye condition?

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