The 206 patients in the study shared a number of characteristics, including stable, untreatable, age-related macular degeneration in both eyes with visual acuity no better than 20/80 but no worse than 20/800, along with good peripheral vision. A year after the trial was completed, 90 percent of patients were able to see two lines better on a reading chart, and 67 percent were able to see three lines better, which is the equivalent of doubling their vision, says Chet Kumar, VisionCare's director of business and market development.
Although implantable miniature telescopes are not a cure for macular degeneration, "FDA approval (of VisionCare's technology) will take a very desperate group of people and give them some hope," says Lane, a principal investigator at Associated Eye Care, who implanted six devices during VisionCare's Phase I trial.
Researchers are hopeful that implantable miniature telescopes will usher in successful treatment for patients with age-related macular degeneration. "We are waiting for the FDA to approve the device,'' Colby says, "so we can begin placing the device."