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Tiny Telescope Helps Macular Degeneration Patients See Again

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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DENVER (CBS4) – A tiny telescope implanted in the eye is helping people with advanced macular degeneration see again.

It’s a groundbreaking treatment benefiting patients in Colorado and CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh wanted to know how the implant works.

Gil Jones has a new twinkle in her eye and what Dr. Starck Johnson sees looks good.

“There’s no inflammation, the wound is healing beautifully,” Johnson told her.

What Jones now sees is a dream come true.

“Basically they said I was legally blind,” she said.

That was just three months ago. Jones has end-stage macular degeneration.

“It’s a disease where you lose the central part of the vision,” Johnson said.

There is no cure, but on July 17 Johnson gave the 85-year-old back her vision with a brand new technology. In a 45-minute surgery he implanted a pea-sized telescope in Jones’ right eye. The other eye he left alone.

“The telescope eye works for the central vision, the other eye works for the peripheral vision, and the patient learns to put these two images together to give them their vision,” Johnson said.

“When I first started I had 20/200 and now I’m at 20/70,” Jones said.

Jones is reading again, cooking and doing chores.

“I mean the dust on the floors and things now I see; it’s there and I have to clean it up,” Jones said.

She’s seeing television in color and critiquing her beloved Denver Broncos.

“They need to quit playing the first three quarters and just play the fourth quarter,” she said.

Jones says she barely notices the implant in her eye but she does notice the colors of cars and scenery and how much better life seems.

“It just brings in a different world to you because you can see again,” she said.

Johnson has now done four telescope implant surgeries so far. The treatment is Food and Drug Administration approved and Medicare eligible. Check with your doctor to see if you are a good candidate for the implant.

LINK: Specialty Eye Care

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