For millions of Americans who suffer from degenerative vision loss, many days may feel like a step through a darkening tunnel. Coping with vision loss can be unspeakably difficult, which is why so many incredible adaptive products exist to ease transitions and increase independence. As adaptive products continue to advance, however, so do treatment options. Incredibly, new technologies and advancements are enabling individuals with partial or complete vision loss to see again. The field of vision recovery is experiencing exponential growth, resulting in new treatment options you or a loved one may be eligible for. Keep scrolling to learn more:
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a progressive eye disease in which light-sensitive cells of the retina are destroyed. Vision loss due to this disease is a certainty, but new products such as the VisionCare telescope implant device are giving new hope to AMD sufferers. The device, designed by Dr. Isaac Lipshitz and approved by the FDA in 2014, is only inserted into one eye in order to maintain full peripheral vision in the other.
The miniature telescope acts just like its larger, stargazing counterparts by magnifying a small area and, in terms of vision restoration, projecting it across the entire retina. Patients who were previously unable to read or watch television are now able to perform daily tasks with ease thanks to the telescope. The implant cannot be placed in an eye that has had a previous cataract surgery, and prospective candidates must pass a series of tests. To determine your eligibility and learn more, visit the developer’s website at http://www.visioncareinc.net/ or the specific device’s website at http://www.centrasight.com/.
Many eye diseases, such as the inherited disease retinitis pigmentosa, are progressive and eventually result in complete vision loss. Thankfully, a bold new device called the Argus II is restoring sight in severe retinitis pigmentosa sufferers thanks to microchip technologies. Also known as a bionic eye or retinal implant, the Argus II consists of a microchip implanted in one eye. The implant receives electrical impulses from a special pair of glasses that include a video processing unit (VPU). Wearers first begin to see patterns of light, and can later translate these images into more complex shapes and structures such as the grassy edge of a sidewalk. The Argus II was FDA-approved as a commercial visual prosthesis in 2013. To learn more, visit http://www.2-sight.com/.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the older population, and for years the primary treatment has been medicated eye drops, which must be administered daily. The drops help to slow the disease’s progression, but cannot improve vision lost to the buildup of pressure caused by glaucoma. To combat the hassle of daily drops and help sufferers see results, researchers Joseph Ciolino and Daniel Kohane, M.D., have developed a specialty contact lens for glaucoma patients. The lenses have a thin layer of glaucoma medication in them, and can steadily dole out medication for up to a month. More advancements and studies are underway, but for now talk to your eye doctor or visit http://www.glaucoma-association.com/ for more information.
Wet AMD is much less common than the dry form of AMD, but it is much more destructive and often leads to rapid vision loss. The abnormal blood vessels that grow under the retina as a result of wet AMD are aided by VEGF proteins, so scientists have developed a new class drugs, anti-VEGF agents, in response. This treatment option is now widely available and has been found to stop and sometimes reverse the damage.
For patients interested in the therapy, the anti-VEGF agents are currently delivered via monthly injections. Researchers are working on better ways to deliver the medication, including reservoir delivery, gene therapy, and cell regeneration. If you suffer from wet AMD, talk to your eye doctor or ask for a specialist referral to see if anti-VEGF injections are right for you.